Museums | Exhibits | Museum of Science and Industry |

The Great Train Story

Museum of Science and Industry | Chicago, IL | 2016

All aboard a newly illuminated experience at MSI!

What It Was

All aboard a newly illuminated experience at MSI! After years of standard lighting, the Museum of Science and Industry’s “The Great Train Story” exhibit has been relit with new LED lighting. The lighting showcases the colors, textures and details of this beloved 3,500-sf scale model railroad display that takes guests on a journey from downtown Chicago to Seattle.

What We Did

The existing incandescent track created uneven illumination. As part of MSI’s ongoing lighting upgrades, Lightswitch replaced it with a seamless new system that integrates cohesive LED lighting and advanced digital controls. To enhance the exhibit’s look and feel, Lightswitch created an experience that is both lifelike and theatrical. We refocused the entire exhibit to emphasize its intricate details. Using color-tunable LED trackheads, we calibrated the color temperature and intensity of individual lamps to reveal details like the painted white caps of the Rocky Mountains. We replaced the two existing control systems—one for the daytime effect, the other for nighttime—with one centralized DMX-based system to provide smooth, granular control of the lighting. The new system allows for a more gradual shift from day to night.

Why It Worked

Over the past few years, we’ve worked with MSI to relight many of its iconic exhibits like the “Ships Gallery” with intelligent lighting systems. Our “smart” lighting solutions have proved to be a smart investment for the Museum—they’ve realized energy savings and have helped guests see their favorite exhibits in a new light. Our design for “The Great Train Story” reduced its lighting energy use by thousands of kilowatt hours per year. What’s more, it has reduced the need for relamping, ensuring the integrity of the guest experience for years to come. Photos courtesy of ILC