Hall of Governors,
New York State Capitol

Recipient of a 2012 IES Illuminations Award of Merit

Featuring portraits of New York State's past governors dating back to 1797, the second floor of the state Capitol serves as a rich historical gallery. The Hall of Governors recently underwent a lighting facelift, designed to reduce energy costs and enrich the observers' experience. Our objective was to create a pleasant viewing environment for this collection of governors' portraits – a museum gallery – while minimizing overall energy use and irradiance on the art.

The Hall of Governors at the New York State Capitol exemplifies the advances made in light-emitting diode (LED) research. New lighting helped transform the previously dark, gloomy exhibit of New York governors' portraits into a state-of-the art gallery.

Before (left) and after (right) photographs of the Hall of Governors. Halogen lights cast heat and glare on portraits and the overall effect in the hall is gloomy due to dark tones. New LED lighting provides an overall brighter effect, while enhancing portrait details and reducing energy use and maintenance.

The original lighting, combined with dark paint and wood tones, rendered an overall gloomy effect. Halogen portrait lights, using 160 to 240 watts per luminaire, cast heat and glare directly onto each painting, obscuring color, details, and texture. Glass pendants, originally installed as central hall lighting, detracted from the portraits by drawing the eye to hot spots created by clusters of compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) at their center.

Contracted to redesign the lighting, the LRC DesignWorks used high color rendering index (CRI), low wattage LED sources to enhance artwork and reduce degradation. New fixtures are integrated into existing architectural cornices. Glass pendants were retrofitted with single, long CFLs to soften their effect.

The original lighting used 240 watts of halogen directly on the portrait, which washed out colors and resulted in a hot spot across the top of each. 25 to 50 watts of LED lighting now accent each portrait from a distance, replacing the heat and glare on the pictures from CFLs. Color and fine details now come to life.

Before (left) and after (right) portraits of Franklin Roosevelt showed considerable improvement with 25-50 watt LEDs. Color and fine details, such as pin-striped trousers, were brought to life.


  • Maintenance was reduced, and energy consumption decreased by 68%
  • While ambient illuminance levels doubled, the lighting load decreased from 8960 watts to 2800 watts
  • Based on 16 hours/day, 365 days/year operation, actual energy savings plus reduced lamp maintenance translated to:
    • Savings of $15, 061 per year
    • Annual energy reduction of 40,239 kWh
    • Annual CO2 reduction of 14.2 metric tons
Before (left) and after (right) portraits of Theodore Roosevelt showed considerable improvement with 25-50 watt LEDs. Color and fine details, such as pin-striped trousers, were brought to life.

This project was sponsored by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and was completed through cooperation with the Office of General Services (OGS).