Metropolitan Museum of Art, British Galleries

Location: New York, NY

Architects: Roman and Williams

Lighting Design: L’Observatoire International

The Metropolitan Museum of Art redesigned their British Galleries to expand the spectrum of objects to include more crafted objects and to address British colonialism during the time period covered by the exhibition. We were brought in by L’Observatoire International to provide lighting for the gallery and specifically to address the challenge of illuminating many different types of objects in one space.

The illumination on the Tea Pot display is one of the hardest types of lighting to accomplish. Focusing on a case means that the lighting designer is fighting shadows, glare and reflections; focusing on a glass case in the round like this one, is an almost impossible task, because it becomes necessary to counteract lighting on both sides. This requires precise positioning of the fixtures in space to ensure that glare and shadows are eliminated and the light levels in the case are high enough to counteract reflections without causing visual discomfort. All the while, the lighting designer has to ensure that the objects are well-lit in the round.

The emphasis on this display reveals not only the success that the lighting designer achieved in focusing this element of the design, but also how much of a moment in the space these cases are. The lighting designer (L’Observatoire International) used our A04 fixture to precisely focus the cases, avoiding spill, reducing shadows, and eliminating glare and reflections. We are very proud to be a part of this particular design element, and to see how successfully executed it is.

In addition to the A04, Litelab provided very large format LiteRigs; these large extrusions include 2-circuit BusRun at the bottom, and a Tunable White LED linear uplight. These elements function to frame space within the gallery, and call to mind the heavy timber construction common in England over the period of the exhibition.

The profile of the extrusions was crafted to the design intent of Roman and Williams (the interior designer, and includes a slight reveal that increases the perceptible mass of the rigs, while also masking fixture stems to lower fixture profiles. LED uplights provide a diaphanous low-level glow to the galleries, and provide very subtle wayfinding clues for exhibition attendees.

All fixtures have on-board dimming to address conservation requirements for an exhibition that includes a multitude of different media with different light-level needs.