Lighting brings out the features of your garden structures.

Lighting for Statues: The Best Ways to Illuminate Your Art

When you visit museums, parks or recreational sites, you can often find a monument or statute. These statutes and monuments don’t sit in the dark when the sun goes down—rather, they’re illuminated as the works of art they are. If you have garden statues in your yard, you can achieve the same dramatic, romantic or even uplifting feeling with the right lighting approach. Below, we’ll explore the best approach to lighting for sculptures and what you can do to exemplify the art on your property.

Identify your statue’s prominent features

The best approach to lighting depends on the type of monument, sculpture or statue on your property. Is it the statue of a person, like Michelangelo’s David? Is it an animal, such as a bear carved out of wood? Or is it a work of art—something thought-provoking and open to interpretation? How you cast light depends on the significant features of the statue.

  • For statues of people, illuminate the features that make them human
  • For animal sculptures, shine a light on the craftsmanship of the piece
  • For artistic installations, light the features that define its shape and depth

This isn’t to say that you should leave any part of your statue bathed in darkness! It means that the intensity and direction of your lighting should focus on the features that matter most. Keep reading to learn how to tailor lighting around features and how to use light intensity to create depth and ambiance.

Shine a light on what matters

How do you illuminate features as part of an entire statue? First, decide what parts of the statute or monument are best to illuminate. Then, focus on how you want to distinguish them.

  • If your statue stands against a wall or tree line, you could use light to create a shadow behind prominent features. This might require strategic light fixture placement, such as close to the base of a monument or off to the side
  • If you want to distribute equal light across the broad face of a monument, center a fixture at the base of the statute and shine the light almost straight up. This up-lighting will cast broader swaths of light over larger focal areas.
  • To illuminate one single element of the statute, place the beam directly on that part of the statute. The closer it is, the more focused and concentrated the lighting will be. You can also use narrow beams to focus on prevalent features.

To illuminate a statue (no matter what part), it takes a brilliant, focused light to brighten low-light environments or to add impact or emotion. Several options exist for lighting a monument or statue, but you’ll need to look at a few things before you go out and purchase one.

Consider the type of light fixture

When it comes to outdoor light fixtures for statues, homeowners have options. From beam shape to lighting intensity, it’s worth getting to know what’s available to you as you consider the ideal way to light your statues and monuments for maximum effect.

But, first things first. All outdoor lighting must meet special requirements that indoor lighting does not. These requirements are easily accommodated once you know what you’re looking for:

  • First, you need low-voltage fixtures from 12V to 24V, rather than the standard 120V for indoor lights. The reason behind this is safety. Outdoor lights require a transformer and all outdoor lighting needs to take overall voltage into account.
  • Next, if you live in an area with freezing temperatures (even for a short time), you’ll need lighting fixtures that can survive at or below freezing. Check even waterproof fixtures like fiber-optic outdoor lighting for winter readiness.
  • Finally, check with your homeowners association or municipality to see if there are any dark sky rules against light pollution. This won’t necessarily mean you can’t light your monuments—it means you need to follow stricter lighting regulations. Make sure your area allows the fixture you buy before you install it.

Once you know what you’re looking for, you can narrow the search to the type of outdoor monument lighting. Monument- or statue-illuminating lights come in a wide selection of bulbs and temperatures, from warm white to bright daylight, and even have color-changing options and variable-angle beams.

Quality statue and monument lighting also offers energy savings, allowing you to light your outdoor art affordably. Some brands can last up to 10 years and can integrate into lighting control systems and operated with other outdoor lighting systems simultaneously.

Bring ambiance to your landscape’s prominent features

Statues, sculptures and monuments are beautiful additions to your property—ones worth showing off even after the sun goes down. To illuminate them with dynamic appeal takes a coordinated, well-executed strategy. It starts by understanding how to light statues and using the right products to cast illumination.

Want more tips on how to light your statues and monuments the right way? Touchstone’s trained illuminologists are happy to help you select the perfect lighting option for your statue or monument, and provide advice for how to exemplify your outdoor work of art.