Museums | Exhibits | Facilities | The Field Museum |

Cyrus Tang Hall of China

Field Museum | Chicago, IL | 2015

The Cyrus Tang Hall of China is the Field Museum’s first permanent exhibition since 2011.

What It Was

The Cyrus Tang Hall of China is the Field Museum’s first permanent exhibition since 2011. The 9,000-sf exhibit guides guests through the cultural and political history of one of the world’s most influential civilizations using more than 300 Chinese artifacts, including textiles, rubbings, bronzes, ceramics and sculpture.

What We Did

Lightswitch illuminated the hall’s entrance, main exhibit area and East Garden. To attract guests, we lit the stone Foo lions flanking the entrance with color-tunable, white theatrical fixtures that perfectly set off the color and texture of the statues against the dark backdrop. Inside the exhibit, we collaborated with the conservators and curators to ensure that all lighting properly preserved the objects and showcased them in the best possible light. Set at varying intervals and paired with controls, case lighting enabled us to adjust light levels to suit each type of artifact on display—from lower levels for delicate paper objects to higher ones for metal and stone. We also conducted extensive mockups to evenly balance the light from the cases, reading rails and touch screens for guests’ comfort and visibility. The exhibit culminates in the East Garden, a glass-walled, daylight-filled room that invites contemplation and meditation. Using the same tunable white light fixtures at the entrance, we illuminated the only objects in the room, the Spirit Stones, with calm, gentle white light that complements the natural light during the day and creates a space for reflection at night.

Why It Worked

Lightswitch designers have been lighting the Field Museum for more than two decades. As long-time collaborators, we understand the nuances of displaying its art, artifacts and objects in the right light. Here, we incorporated advanced LED technology and digital controls to show objects as they would have originally been viewed, giving guests a more authentic experience.