F. Oudeman

"The diagrams for lighting the exhibits are stellar and show clear thought and intentionality for making sure that these minerals are given their proper respect.” —Juror Lauren Dandridge

Completed in 2021, a redesign of the 11,500-square-foot gem and mineral gallery at New York’s American Museum of Natural History brings new clarity and focus to each gleaming specimen on display. In partnership with local architecture firm Davis Brody Bond and exhibition designers at Ralph Appelbaum Associates, lighting experts at Big Apple–based Renfro Design Group began their work by conducting extensive studies and building mock-ups to test the latest in LED technology. This painstaking process ultimately enabled the designers to identify the best fixtures to illuminate the collection, which includes more than 5,000 sparklers of varying sizes from 98 countries.

The resulting scheme features three layers of light that allow visitors to examine each piece without the distractions of heavy shadows. Case attics conceal light sources separate from the specimen displays, with each containing a dual CCT, 98+ CRI micro-adjustable track system. Renfro Design Group also employed color-changing perimeter cove lights to create a sense of theatricality and help define the gallery space. A linear light wash within each display case, meanwhile, ensures continuity of color temperature throughout and clearly highlights text and graphics.

F. Oudeman
F. Oudeman
F. Oudeman
F. Oudeman
F. Oudeman
F. Oudeman
courtesy Renfro Design Group

Project Name: American Museum of Natural History, Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals
Location: New York
Client/Owner: American Museum of Natural History
Lighting Designers: Renfro Design Group, American Museum of Natural History
Architect: Davis Brody Bond
Exhibition Designer: Ralph Appelbaum Associates
Photographer: F. Oudeman

Project Size: 11,500 square feet
Watts per Square Foot: Total = 11.62W/SF | Total Exempt = 11.22W/SF | Total Actual = 0.4W/SF
Code Compliance: ASHRAE + NYC Local Law 91
Lighting Product Manufacturers: Luxam Lighting; Lighting Services Inc.; Ecosense Lighting; Lucifer Lighting; Ketra, Lutron

This article first appeared in the January/Febuary 2023 issue of ARCHITECT.