Tridonic drivers instrumental in the lighting design for the recently refurbished Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge

Tridonic partner, Littledown has played a key role in the provision and installation of the lighting control for the recently completed refurbishment of Gallery Three at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. Opened in 1848, The Fitzwilliam Museum is the lead partner of the spectacular collections of the University of Cambridge Museums (UCM) and Botanic Garden. It houses a world-renowned collection of over half-million beautiful works of art, masterpiece paintings and historical artefacts.

 

Littledown had already been involved in the refurbishment of the museum’s main entrance so were delighted to be involved in this next stage. The initial brief for the lighting in the gallery was; ‘To illuminate evenly the gallery but have the flexibility to control the ambiance of the gallery by the lighting.’ Steve Reid, MD at Littledown, worked closely with Precision Lighting and lighting designer, Matthew Nourse, to devise a lighting solution which could accommodate the more specific requirements. Reid explained more: “There were four elements of the lighting, which required consideration:

  • Lower level to illuminate the art objects. This was split into two options, the main track in the recesses and the spotlights on the bulkheads
  • Mezzanine level which may in future have objects, but none immediately being planned for therefore the lighting would be dedicated to the ancient frieze
  • Barrel ceiling with the best architectural features of the space including the ceiling mouldings and illuminated to show the finer detail
  • And finally, the upper level where the statues stand between the window elements, the idea being to highlight each individual sculpture.”

In addition, each of the lighting levels had to be individually controlled and all must have the capability of dimming using a DALI system, (this is an upgrade on the current control system currently in most other areas of the museum). Colour rendering and light levels were also a key consideration for the curators.

“This was a challenging project for us to work on. Not only did we only have a very short window for the installation, but the linear lighting that we were installing around the pelmets totalled 60m in length and is over 10 meters above floor level;” said Reid. Tridonic’s support in the form of meeting the tight deadlines for manufacture was vital to the success of the project.as was the peace of mind of reliability of the components supplied.

 

The LED linear lighting, which uses Tridonic control gear, was installed using specially designed, easy to mount brackets. The main components were LCA 50w drivers, LLE boards and LED covers, all of which have the Tridonic 5-year guarantee and the drivers have a nominal lifetime of 100,000 hours. The galleries entire lighting solution is fully controllable and each individual fitting can be programmed to provide the optimum LUX levels for the artwork that is being illuminated. The standard lighting is a warm white with a colour temperature of 3000K, which matches the colour temperature in the recently refurbished entrance hall. By removing the old fluorescent fittings, not only has the lighting improved, with no flicker, but the museum is also anticipating making a significant energy saving and reducing the possible effects of UV on the artefacts.

 

In addition to the illustrious artworks, the plasterwork on the ceiling, which is one of the most astonishing museum interiors anywhere, has been cleaned, freshened up and painted in parts, and the new lighting enables visitors to have a far better view of all the detail.

 

Image accredited © The Fitzwilliam Museum

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