Museums | Exhibits |

Mysteries of the Marsh

Exhibit, Notebaert Nature Museum | Chicago, IL | 2008

Lightswitch changed and moved track fixtures to eliminate shadowing. Fluorescent fixtures hung above screens and existing transparent “lily pads” on the ceiling provide bright ambient lighting.

What It Was

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum focuses on teaching visitors about the natural flora and fauna of the Midwest through science programs, research and exhibits, and the display of its natural history collection. The Mysteries of the Marsh exhibit at the museum had a dim and uninviting aspect which discouraged visitors from walking through. The glare and low light levels interfered with educational programs, and shadowing made reading text difficult.

What We Did

Lightswitch changed and moved track fixtures to eliminate shadowing. Fluorescent fixtures hung above screens and existing transparent “lily pads” on the ceiling provide bright ambient lighting. A large new tank with one way, mirrored glass, required moderate ambient lighting in order not to interfere with the opacity of the mirroring on the inside of the tank. Rope light under the edge of the new tank gives light on the floor, where it’s needed, without overpowering the lights inside the tank. Track fixtures were also removed along a glass wall along the back of the exhibit, eliminating glare. Lightswitch worked closely with the supplier to meet the museum’s stringent budget and time restraints.

Why It Worked

The new lighting makes the exhibit feel more like a marsh in daylight. Visitors can now bend over to look closely at a praying mantis in the hands of an educator without having their shadow block all the light. The space feels more open and available for investigation with less intrusive light sources. The changes accomplished all the project’s goals for less than the amount budgeted.