The main attraction of the National Archives museum in Washington, DC is the 200+ year-old Declaration of Independence on display, or the Bill of Rights and Constitution. Museum exhibits therein are the “stars”. Visitors come expecting to feel emotion by what they see and lighting is the medium that allows human beings to see and experience beauty. It sets the mood, and can either detract or enhance the visitors’ experiences.
Vision is the sense through which we appreciate a museum. Light draws attention to colors, textures, and curves of a space, making architecture come alive and achieve the architect’s intention for the structure. If done correctly, lighting becomes the critical element for making a visitor’s experience unforgettable. One they will cherish and share with friends.
Museum lighting is used by lighting designers to direct the narrative and tell a story.
“It’s a visible dance,” said Hannah Crowell, an Exhibition Designer for Charlotte Mint Museum. “Where’s the showstopper in the room? Much like theater productions, museum exhibits always have a lead actor. And when that actor needs to be heard, we bump up the light.”
In Prolume’s history of providing lighting designers with professional LED lighting solutions for museums, only LED lighting is used. Ultra-Violet (UV) and Infrared (IR) spectrums in antiquated lighting mediums break down the chemical bond of dye, causing degradation of colors, woods and textiles. Museum lighting designers know the importance of using LEDs, however understanding color quality versus Color Rendering Index (CRI) and be less obvious.
Designers working with Prolume have direct access to expertise on CRI, Correlated Color Temperature (CCT), lumens and efficacy, and a full on-site lighting laboratory at our research and development center. Additionally, Prolume’s engineers understand that for the most discriminating projects, only custom light fixtures will do.
For a better understanding, here is a look at Prolume’s work on museum lighting.
Outdoor Landscape & Façade Lighting
Prolume lights the facade of the National Museum of the Marine Corp. An amazing building design, which needed facade lighting able to withstand harsh outdoor elements. The lighting needed to be bright enough to illuminate a vast area. The Prolume LUMA series, a high-power low voltage linear LED light fixture was used. A highly-engineered light fixture, the LUMA series is IP65 rated and uses a sturdy aluminum extrusion. In this case it was customized with carefully selected high-power LEDs, custom lengths and optics specified to illuminate the shortest or highest of walls.
Outdoor lighting helps pedestrians find their way along pathways and via lighting installed within hand-rails. Prolume custom designed the RIA series light for rail lighting and offers the Nite-Glow series light for pathway lighting. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is a gorgeous building already, but when accentuated with Prolume’s outdoor rail lighting product the building pops even more.
Once indoors, the focus is on: Focal Glow, Ambient Luminescence and Play of Brilliants; terms coined by the great architect & lighting designer, Richard Kelly. Prolume offers a collection of LED light fixtures for task, ambient and accent lighting.
The National Archives Museum, home to our Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and Constitution wanted to draw attention to the magnificent architecture in their Rotonda (vaulted ceiling). Lighting designers called on Prolume to engineer a solution that provided ‘shadow free’ illumination. This required a customized version of the previously mention LUMA series linear LED fixture. With a three-tier system the fixtures were stacked and given directional capabilities with a calculated formula of secondary LED optics so light reached the dome’s highest point. Problem solved. The 244 year-old documents are also well lit, but the power that surrounds you from above emits an indescribable feeling, that makes for a truly unforgettable experience.
Another marque site, the Jordan Lobby preceding the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial Hall will give you goose bumps on the first step inside. Here fortune 500 companies, United States Presidents and foreign dignitaries host events. Prolume helped light this building with its RIA light fixture. Casting a perfect stream of cove light onto the historic building walls and ceiling.
The Bass Museum in Miami, Florida wanted to hide lights in the floor to help cascade light up their stone walls. Prolume handled this gracefully as seen in the images to the right. Again, museum lighting done with the RIA fixture. The light quality and intensity perfectly highlighted the texture of the walls. Installation was made easy with guided instructions written by Prolume engineers.
Another emotionally moving project that we were blessed to work on was the 9/11 Memorial at Boston International Airport; where historic flights 11 and 175 departed from. Prolume gave the glass structure a subtle glow with careful placement of the RIA LED light fixture. Take a close at the pictures and see it up close in video, here.
Shelburne Museum, a local museum, asked Prolume to help light antique display cases. A more delicate application like this was perfect for the LIA series light fixture. The same product is also seen in the United States National Postal Museum. The postal museum project Prolume back-lit windows to highlight old stamps seen from outdoors. Additionally, the RIA fixture provided accent lighting to help showcase an old blue post office box.
An affinity for history and lighting leads us into many museum lighting projects. We also worked with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of the United States Army. We’d love to work on more, but our schedule tends to fill up quickly, if you have a need for museum lighting please contact us and secure a quote and timeline right away.