Light through the Ages

Eleven years in the planning, five years in the making – a combination of brand new construction and renovation of the existing building dating from 1908 has transformed the LWL Museum of Art and Culture in Muenster into one of the biggest art museums in Germany.

In many ways, the architecture can be seen to reflect the 1,000 years of art on display. Old and new are merged into a single architectural unit to showcase works from the Middle Ages to modern times, ensuring a unique visitor experience.

"Art needs daylight," explains Museum Director Hermann Arnhold. This principle applies not only to the new construction, but also to the historic parts of the building, where a spacious atrium is surrounded on two levels by an arcade. It was therefore necessary to design a new lighting solution for these officially protected arcades as part of the refurbishment.

Brand new construction and renovation of the existing building dating from 1908 have transformed the LWL Museum for Art and Culture in Muenster into one of the biggest art museums in Germany. (All Photographs courtesy of Marcus Ebener)

Looking at how the arcades are currently used helped identify the key requirements. Flexibility and adaptability are extremely important factors for both temporary exhibitions and the correct presentation of a wide range of sculptures and objects. The integration of the lighting solution into the existing structures also played a major role, with visual disturbance caused by additional elements to be kept to an absolute minimum in the historical rooms. In addition, as the architecture offers visitors fine views across the central courtyard, it was necessary to find a suitable holistic lighting solution for both levels of the arcade.

After several test installations and close cooperation with the local listed buildings authority, lighting designer Licht Kunst Licht AG from Bonn opted for SUPERSYSTEM from Zumtobel. Given the combination of minimalist form, versatility and excellent lighting quality for sensitive artworks, this understated lighting system offered the perfect solution. When suspended centrally in line with the top of the columns, SUPERSYSTEM is the unifying light element that runs through the historic arcades.

A new lighting solution has been designed for the officially protected arcades as part of the refurbishment of the LWL Museum

SUPERSYSTEM performs several functions. It provides uniform indirect illumination of the vaulted areas for diffuse general lighting, carefully avoiding the transverse arches and only highlighting the vaults. In addition, fixed LED mini-spots enable direct lighting when required. The beam angle can be adapted for specific exhibitions by changing the lenses in the adjustable SUPERSYSTEM heads.

Thanks to the flexibility of the light system, spotlights used elsewhere in the museum can also be mounted on the track to accentuate particular exhibits. The DALI lighting controls system works in combination with a portable control panel, making it easy for staff to independently regulate the direct and indirect lighting and individually adjust every group of LED mini-spots.

Flexibility and adaptability are extremely important factors for both temporary exhibitions and the correct presentation of a wide range of sculptures and objects.
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