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Museum of the Bible

Once a refrigerated warehouse, this renovated 430,000-square-foot building is now one of the largest museums in Washington DC, featuring eight floors containing over 3,000 artifacts. On display are hundreds of Bibles influenced by pop-culture, politics, and centuries of religious scholarship. In a Museum journey, visitors are transported from ancient times to modern day continually examining three main themes—the history, impact, and story of the Bible—expressed through priceless artifacts, bold graphics, interactive exhibits, and theater presentations. Besides providing exhibit accent and visitor circulation, lighting is employed to both evoke mood and support the storytelling. Available Light was privileged to be associated with two firms in two discrete gallery experiences to bring both a historic perspective exhibit and a contemporary lifestyle exhibit to life. Both projects successfully met time, power consumption, and budget constraints.

The HISTORY exhibit focuses on the Bible’s earliest incarnations to its subsequent, millennia-long across the globe. Programmable RGBL LED theatrical-framing projectors employ gobo patterns and dynamic changes in color to convey an immersive sense of place and changing times of day. Four mini-theaters (each with show control components) provide in-depth interpretation, while hundreds of artifacts, dating back centuries, provide context. Artifact conservation measures drove every lighting choice. SSL wash, spot, and programmable theatrical lighting fixtures—producing virtually zero UV and IR—serve to create a multi-layered presentation, illuminating both content and immersive environments. Thematic custom column-mounted flickering sconces, case-integral, and overhead lighting was all designed to be sympathetic and celebratory of exhibit architecture, creating a gallery-wide integrated presentation. 150 artifact cases were designed with multiples layers of integral LED lighting. A series of occupancy sensors feeding a central controller provides 24/7 monitoring of the multiple layers of dimmable LED case lighting. Feedback includes time-of-exposure and driver failure reporting. Exhibit illumination comes from integral case lighting and overhead track w/high CRI LED retrofit lamps. This approach netted 80% energy reduction from prior gallery lighting practice. This global library, with its sleek architecture, houses library-style shelves. Canopy-mounted LED wall-wash uplight fixtures were integrated into exhibit structure, hidden from visitors’ view.


The IMPACT exhibit demonstrates far-reaching Bible influence on everything from human rights to science to architecture. The open-layout gallery utilizes custom illuminated “candle” pendants to mark topics. Exhibits such as a jail cell, fashion show, art display, and civic rotunda help convey vast Bible influence on modern life. A 180’ long woven tapestry, lit dynamically with projected changing quotes/images was synchronized to a video/audio program highlighting the “living” nature of biblical text. Mannequins draped in cutting edge fashion in close proximity to light sensitive artifacts, demanded highly controlled luminaire focus, and thoughtful aiming angles. Media presentations consistently weave among artifacts and graphics. A careful lighting balance was required to avoid glare on media screens while simultaneously highlighting a diverse collection. Sculptures are enlivened by via theatrical lighting techniques of multiple aiming angles and subtle shifts in color palette. Overall design consistency across an open gallery was balanced with a series of, unique story-driven experiences. 


Design Team & Key Equipment Used:

Exhibit Designers: C&G Partners, PRD Group

  • Track/track heads: Lighting Services Inc, PRG, Bruck, Juno Lighting
  • Cases: Color Kinetics, Juno, Visual Lighting Technologies, Gantom, Jesco, Prolume
  • Testimonial Video Booth, Text Projection: BBS Lighting
  • Linear Wall Wash: Lumenpulse, LED Linear, Selux
  • Staircase sculpture: Edge Lighting
  • Recessed: Lucifer Lighting, iGuzzini, USAI Lighting
  • Integral Scenes: Luminii, Optic Arts, Gantom, EcoSense, Cool Edge, Acclaim, Optolum
  • Linear Accents: Birchwood Lighting, LED Linear
  • Video Conference Lighting: Brightline
  • Theatrical Framing Color Changing Lighting: ETC
  • Lighting Controls : Interactive Technologies, Lutron
  • Special Exhibition Area: Focal Point
  • Decorative Pendants: Lightolier
  • Theater Step Lights: Mica Lighting
  • DMX Data Distribution: Pathway Connectivity
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