Principles of Form, Function, and Lighting in Museums of Contemporary and Digital Art

Subject: Art
Pages: 9
Words: 2312
Reading time:
9 min
Study level: College


Principles of form, function, and lighting have a major impact on different museums. Such elements influence approaches in which audience may need to explore museums of contemporary and digital art. The analysis will explore the concept of the principles in museums of contemporary and digital art.

Principles in museum of contemporary and digital art

These can be argued as guides and elements, which facilitate planning and setting up of a museum. Under the principle of form, function, and lighting, elements such as good architectural design, proper land as well as the availability of energy can be analysed. Under the architectural design, Agua Caliente Cultural Museum notes:

  1. Design the facility to sit softly on the land and fit into the landscape.
  2. Design the facility to be interactive with the environment.
  3. Allow the visitor to feel nature’s coolness and warmth, light and dark.
  4. Design the facility to be in keeping with local/regional architectural character.
  5. Use materials of low embodied energy, including recycled products.
  6. The scale and character of the facility should respond to the site and natural features.
  7. Provide natural indirect daylight to illuminate the interior spaces of the facility.
  8. Create a building material vocabulary that speaks of the living culture – past and present.
  9. Site the facility to protect against extreme climatic conditions.
  10. Design for thermal massing to mitigate internal temperature fluctuations.”

Moreover, land is appropriate since it provides a site for the museum, which gives chances for historical as well as ecological conservations. As a result, this provides cultural preservations for future generations, which may want to go to the museum. Agua Caliente Cultural Museum ascertains the following:

‘Develop the site to provide for open, naturally landscaped areas that include courtyards, terraces, and botanical gardens. Avoid site fragmentation and maintain continuous natural habitats that encourage and foster biological diversity.’

Moreover, the most appropriate source of energy that will sufficiently serve the entire museum can be required. Energy such as sunlight will provide sufficient lighting to the museum. In addition, adequate ventilation is necessary for the museum. The following paragraphs provide some insights on these principles of museum, as evidenced below.

Principles in museums of contemporary and digital art have various means of reaching out to the viewers. Therefore, the museums act as sites in which individuals explore and experience the architectural beauty through adopted form and design. Both form and spatial arrangement in the museums provide some aesthetic values of the contemporary and digital art, which facilitate the best interpretation.3 The spatial arrangement, which has been adopted, can help in making the museum interior as well as the exterior designs to portray symbolic elements, which facilitates the communication of the outlined themes. The mood and experience of those people who may tend to visit the museum are determined by both form of the architectural work and the design of the whole structure, which facilitate movement as well as visibility. Several museums portray properly displayed forms, especially on the layout of the random grid, which enables the viewers to get together and explore the space. Such captivating spatial arrangement has also been witnessed in several museums in London. Indeed, such architectural design and gallery arrangements in museums make it possible for random viewing. Therefore, the viewers’ movement fashions are not limited by the arrangement of the museum, design, and their pattern of viewing are more gradual. Therefore, functional design helps in reinforcing the appeal created under such settings, thus enabling various observers to decide on the kinds of forms and elements to begin viewing at the initial stages. The museum principle arrangement, especially the floors inspires the observers and motivates them to make informed choices on the kinds of forms and elements to start viewing.

Principle layout on the museum ought to provide the audience with room for interaction. As a result, this will affect ways in which the viewers perceive the forms used in the museum. It can be argued that judgments may either be rational or irrational, and can vary from one individual to the other. Such judgments may also be regarded as subjective, that is, only interpreting the joy, which a person gets from observing a given piece of work in the museum.

Some museums advocates for just a series layout of forms, which has a stronger impact on approaches that the viewers follow as they make movements in the process of exploring objects. An observer is carefully guided on different forms he or she may wish to see from the period of entrance to that period of their departure from a given museum. Such arrangement regulates forms in the museum, which are viewed by various observers. In certain cases, an individual is shown round a museum forms by the well informed curators. Therefore, the observers’ free movement in museums while observing different forms is closely put under check. Such kinds of structural layouts have been widely employed in several parts of the world such as London, Italy, and other geographical areas. In fact, layouts in such museums direct observers on the kinds of forms, which are available for observation and viewing.

Different forms of museum halls also provide en-suite rooms, which also have shared viewing rooms and visitors’ lounges. Each museum gallery hosting about 9 to 16 viewers who are all having a serene communal area, offering a perfect place for catching up with friends as they enjoy and have fun. An overview of the museum has the shared living rooms that are self-catered. There are also other facilities installed such as free internet access, on-site facilities for laundry, mixed sex flats, and 24-hours security CCTV Surveillance. Furthermore, there is a slow change in the way the principles of museums in contemporary and digital art are perceived all over the world. Museums of contemporary art can be regarded as having various symbols of communicating messages on what they bear. Different museums in various parts of the globe capture the needs of such regions and their aspirations on becoming more modern. The museum’s edifice entails the needs of several regions as seen in the most progressive parts of the world.

Form and function are carefully and skillfully used to enhance encaustic, fresco, oil, water colour, and acrylic in this piece of museum artwork. In addition, they are engaged with the use of mixed motif in coming up with a beautiful piece of museum work. This combination of encaustic, fresco, oil, water colour, and acrylic produces dizzying array references on the paintings. The mixture of encaustic, fresco, oil, water colour, and acrylic give some striking allusions, contrasts, and brilliant picture images. These carefully constructed images of pictorial compositions have spatial and chromatically arranged colourful designs with awesome characteristics that attract the viewers and audience of the museum at a glance.

The use of water colour and acrylic make museum paintings appear symmetrical and often hard-edged. The paintings portray some aura-ringed images which hover at varying atmospheric depths. This shows graduated and glowing colours. In fact, the curvaceous silhouettes of these paintings can be used to show some elements of Buddhist shrines, lotus blossoms, mosque domes, and meditating Bodhisattvas. Form and function use acrylic sparingly to produce patterns with latticed and stripped shapes. On the other hand, they make use of oil to artistically come up with vaporous backgrounds. Often, the vaporous backgrounds show some horizontal, diagonal, perpendicular crossings or fuzzy bands. The encaustic and fresco used in museum artwork gives the paintings characteristics of bright and some blurry plaids. In fact, the encaustic and fresco effects of the paintings blend well with the oil colour used in the pictures. This combination of different elements gives some aesthetic value to the pieces of museum arts. Moreover, form skillfully makes use of water colour and acrylic to portray flatness and pure abstraction notion. This notion may give both spiritual and symbolic meanings to these abstract paintings and forms found in the museum. In addition, the water colour used on the rectangle makes it fluid, texture less and crystalline. It can as well be argued that different forms in a contemporary museum provide the aspect of collectivity.


Lighting is important in museum since it provides illuminations. This has been witnessed in renaissance humanism, which is reflected in the fifteenth and sixteenth century European art as a result of the attempt and desire to come up with some of the best creative artworks in the new era. This is part of the great works that the ancient empires of Rome and Greece had started to attain humanity. In fact, light provides a reflection to the physical beauty, which is a representation in artwork that brings human beings closer to their God. Indeed, the humanist patrons of the fifteenth century championed and commissioned the European artists to begin working on artworks on classical themes. This was against the medieval artwork standards that focused on Christian values and subjects. The fifteenth and the sixteenth European artworks on renaissance humanity focused on the natural world. These pieces of artwork draw a lot of emphasis on human forms. With the aid of lighting, the human forms were portrayed as God’s beautiful creations, which demanded a lot of respect. This made the artists study anatomy so that they could paint and curve the human body beautifully, which could be viewed in several museums. Consequently, the European art portrayed the human figures accurately. In essence, the artistic sculptors made people fall in love with the real human form. Besides, these paintings portrayed some elements of civilization, according to illumination that light provides in various museums.

For example, Tintoretto’s work on “The Last Supper” is a true reflection of humanity as depicted by light. Indeed, this artwork goes against the classical paintings, which failed to reflect on the human characteristics due to lack of adequate lighting and ventilations. In this artwork composition, Christ occupies the centre stage, though the table in the picture is placed in a very sharp angle that makes it appear well-illuminated. Tintoretto used some brilliant lighting in the painting to show Christ’s small figure. The scene reflects daily human activities such as event setting, attendance, eating and drinking, and presence of domestic animals. In this event, human characteristics are shown when Jesus Christ offered his body and blood to the disciples. The body and blood represented bread and wine. In the scene, there is some miraculously transformation of earthly things to divine intervention. In addition, the aspect of humanist values is the betrayal of Jesus Christ by Judas Iscariot, who sits in isolation at the near end of the table. In essence, all these elements can only be observed in the museum, when there is proper lighting and ventilation.

Lighting reflects human figures, which are important to both the museum and renaissance art since they enhance human interest. Besides, they depict the artwork religious feeling. Often, the human figures are arranged next to each other, thus giving some significant relations, which a naturalistic view-point lacks. These artistic arrangements give unity and in-depth feeling to the piece of artwork. Through such artworks, human beings are given respect and dignity. In addition, important lessons and messages are passed on to the next generations of humanity. Despite some sense of agitation, human figures portray nobility in renaissance art, which can be well depicted through lighting. Depiction of the human body in renaissance art, through lighting, expresses ideals of beauty that emphasized on proportionality of human structure. Human body parts such as arms and legs must be represented in proportion to the others. This ideal led to analytical study of human geometry and sex biology among various artists. Consequently, this helped in meeting the ideal construct of the human beauty and body form. In fact, during this period of renaissance art, the human body was no longer regarded as something sinful that must be kept hidden or something that is too sacred to be investigated anatomically. Indeed, this artistic era embraced the new ideals, which support anatomical investigations of the human body that is contrary to the classical ideals. These ideals can be artistically revealed through lighting that is employed in museums. In order to support the same argument, Louis Kahn, emphasized the following:

Because it is the light the painter used to paint his painting. And artificial light is a static light… where natural light is a light of mood… the painting must reveal itself in different aspects if the moods of light are included in its viewing, in its seeing. I think that’s the nature, really, of a place where you see paintings.”

Moreover, lighting in museum is aimed to establish the viewers’ feeling on the different modes of accommodation available to them on a range of issues as security, cleanliness, viewing condition, and the return on their money. Some cases have been reported regarding ventilation issues, and the observers have rated the level on how the issues highlighted are implemented and where drastic improvements need to be enhanced in the museum. Various visitors have also proposed halogen lights as the best option of illumination to be adopted by the management as a strategic future plan as it sailed well on better part of the issues of contention, thus posing it as the choice that gives the audience the best return service for their money. Lighting thus gives a better view of the whole museum to be explored. However, the museum management ought to provide proper ventilation, making use of adequate lighting, which does not cause harm to the visiting audience.

Summing up, the principles of form, function, and lighting have significant impacts regarding the approaches, which the audience may intend to use in exploring museums of contemporary and digital art. Form, function, and lighting are essential in both external and interior design of a museum. A good choice of form provides attractive view for the whole structural arrangement.


Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, The New Museum Design and Environmental Principles, accmuseum, 2006, Web.

Freeman, M, The photographer’s mind: creative thinking for better digital photos, Focal Press, Burlington, MA, 2011.

Hassrick, PH & EJ Cunningham, In contemporary rhythm: the art of Ernest Blumenschein, University of Oklahoma Press, Oklahoma, 2008.

Heinrich, D, Aesthetic judgment and moral image of the world, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1992.

Laurier, DA & S Pentak, Design basics, Thomson Wadsworth, Boston, 2008.

Loud, PC, LI Kahn & Duke University of Modern Art, The art museums of Louis I. Kahn, Duke University Press, Fortworth, TX, 1989.

Makkreel, R, Imagination and understanding in Kant, Chicago University Press, Chicago, 1994.

Ruhrberg, K, K Honnef, M Schneckenburger & C Fricke, Art of the 20th century, part 1, Taschen Publishers, Cologne, 2000.

Stimson, B &G Shollette, Collectivism after modernism: art and social imagination after 1945, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 2007.

Venturi, R & MOMA, Complexity and contradiction in architecture, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1977.

Wolf, W, The metareferential turn in contemporary arts and media: forms, functions, attempts at explanation, Rodopi, Amsterdam, 2011.