Stories LEDs Put Chicago's New Field Museum Exhibit in its Best Light
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LEDs Put Chicago's New Field Museum Exhibit in its Best Light

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Two Chicago-area businesses played important behind-the-scenes roles in the installation of the Cyrus Tang Hall of China exhibit at Chicago’s Field Museum. IMARK member Paramont EO, Woodridge, Illinois, teamed up with Lightswitch Architectural, a lighting and visual design firm with offices in Chicago and throughout the country, to provide an LED-based lighting system for the exhibit. The Cyrus Tang Hall of China exhibition is the nation’s only major permanent museum installation focusing on 5,000 years of Chinese history and culture. The 6,000-square-foot exhibit required specialized lighting design and equipment to minimize light degradation of the 350 objects displayed and to support the visitor experience, according to Alvaro Amat, exhibition design director at the Field Museum.

Link to Case Study Download PDFTwo Chicago-area businesses played important behind-the-scenes roles in the installation of the Cyrus Tang Hall of China exhibit at Chicago’s Field Museum. IMARK member Paramont EO, Woodridge, Illinois, teamed up with Lightswitch Architectural, a lighting and visual design firm with offices in Chicago and throughout the country, to provide an LED-based lighting system for the exhibit. The Cyrus Tang Hall of China exhibition is the nation’s only major permanent museum installation focusing on 5,000 years of Chinese history and culture. The 6,000-square-foot exhibit required specialized lighting design and equipment to minimize light degradation of the 350 objects displayed and to support the visitor experience, according to Alvaro Amat, exhibition design director at the Field Museum. In addition to being extremely energy efficient and having a lifecycle several times that of conventional light sources, a major reason for LED’s growing popularity in museums is that LED emits no artifact-degrading ultraviolet (UV) light. “Museum exhibitions must be responsive to a broad age range of viewers—including those with limited or poor vision due to age or other impediments—but also to protect the often delicate nature of the objects displayed,” Amat explained.

“For instance, many of the artifacts displayed can be affected by UV light or visible daylight in certain wavelengths and intensities. The impact of UV can range from fading of colors and pigments to cracking and irreversible decomposition of more fragile and priceless materials,” he said. Thatcher Waller, senior lighting designer at Lightswitch Architectural, said the majority of the fixtures lighting the exhibition are solid-state LEDs. “The recent advances in LED lighting technology have made our job easier because of the quality of light we can achieve that we couldn’t before,” Waller said. “LED addresses our two biggest problems with incandescent lighting, which were color temperature and UV. With LED, we can achieve better color rendering on the artifacts and LED’s lack of UV means there is minimal light degradation to the objects displayed.”

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