Museums | Facilities | Art Institute of Chicago |

Art Institute of Chicago Modern Wing Casework

Art Institute of Chicago | Art Institute of Chicago | 2014

Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano, the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing has been recognized for both its stunning architecture and its acclaimed collection of 20th- and 21st-century artwork since opening in 2009.

What It Was

Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano, the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing has been recognized for both its stunning architecture and its acclaimed collection of 20th- and 21st-century artwork since opening in 2009. The heavily daylit-space includes three groups of built-in vitrines on the third floor that display surrealist 3-D study objects, shadow boxes and paintings. After the existing illuminators for the LED fiber-optic lighting failed, the museum sought a new lasting solution that would complement the space’s abundant natural light.

What We Did

Lightswitch Architectural oversaw the redesign of the existing case lighting. We managed the lighting-intensive project, which included coordinating with the museum staff, millworkers, fabricators and contractors to ensure that the new lighting and redesigned vitrines met AIC’s high standards for quality. First, we directed the design and construction of mock-up cases built by Ravenswood Studios that were exact replicas of the actual cases. We then tested a wide variety of prototype solutions offsite using the replica cases and solicited feedback from the museum. After narrowing down our selections, we moved the replicas onsite so that we could test the prototypes with the artwork under the actual natural and artificial lighting conditions, selected a final design, and worked with lighting controls vendor Chicago Spotlight to make final adjustments to the new LED fiber-optic system.

Why It Worked

The new case lighting provides cleaner, crisper illumination with a higher CRI that matches the surrounding artificial light levels and complements the wing’s day lit conditions. In addition, each individual head is controllable, giving the museum staff the flexibility to adapt the lighting to the requirements of the sensitive objects, and the fiber-optic illuminators are remotely located offering easy access for repair. selected the LED option.