Museums | Facilities | Architecture | Educational and Cultural Institutions | Art Institute of Chicago |

Art Institute of Chicago - Japanese Art Galleries

Art Institute of Chicago | Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago | 2015

AIC recently rejuvenated its Japanese Art Galleries in the Roger L. and Pamela Weston Wing with new LED lighting—a first for an entire gallery within the museum.

What It Was

Ranked as the “#1 museum in the world” by the Trip Advisor 2014 Travelers’ Choice Awards, the Art Institute of Chicago has developed a reputation for excellence. Not content to rest on its laurels, AIC recently rejuvenated its Japanese Art Galleries in the Roger L. and Pamela Weston Wing with new LED lighting—a first for an entire gallery within the museum.

What We Did

Lightswitch designed new LED lighting solutions for two of the most important spaces in the Japanese galleries—the inrō cases and the “Ando gallery.” Color rendering was key for the inrō cases. AIC and the collection’s owner wanted to enhance the color and vibrancy of these small, detailed, multi-compartment, lacquer cases worn by men for personal adornment. Using a combination of LED wall washers and spotlights, we captured the fine detail of these antique artifacts, while minimizing hotspots and glare. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando, the Ando gallery features 16 architectural columns that provide a powerful, but quiet transition to the main room. Inside, an L-shaped wall of glass cases houses detailed paper and fabric screens. We replaced the cases’ existing incandescent spots with new LED wall washers, which give the walls more depth, and spotlights, which reveal the screens’ brilliant colors and patterns without harmful UV rays. A new row of LED pinspots along the base of the cases showcase the bottom of the screens and are a nod to the candles that traditionally uplit the screens from the floor.

Why It Worked

After Lightswitch added LED fiber-optic case lighting to its Modern Wing, AIC retained us to design the illumination for one of its first all-LED galleries. Our solution for the screen and inrō cases allows the museum to fine tune the color and intensity of the lighting from outside the light attic, giving it more flexibility and reducing the overall exhibit maintenance. Photos George Lambros