Providing access for the Metropolitan Museum of Art

March 9, 2009

Theatre Projects was approached by the architectural firm of Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates to help with the renovation of the American Wing Courtyard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA). As part of the renovation, they were looking for a better way to access the exhibit lighting for routine maintenance and focusing. The old method was undesirable for the MMA staff and did not work within the design of the renovation.

Approximately 60 feet above the exhibit floor, the existing lighting position spanned over 100 feet in length and was situated along the edge of a third story gallery. By applying a little entertainment technology to the museum environment, we provided a well-designed and efficient solution.

Robert Young and Michael Nishball of Theatre Projects, through close collaboration, designed a system that provided both easy access and remote focusing ability. For maintenance, Michael designed a system using four self-climbing truss units. Manufactured by Rigging Innovators and installed by I. Weiss, each truss measures 55 feet in length. Two trusses aligned end-to-end were located along the east side of the room and the other two along the west side. This provided two lighting positions, each spanning 110 feet along both sides of the courtyard. Attached to the existing roof steel, these self-contained units fly in to a position 4 feet above the third story gallery. The trusses are controlled by way of a wall-mounted station or a handheld wireless remote. Lamp replacement and fixture maintenance can be accomplished without ladders, lifts, or having to be suspended 60 feet above the ground. Power for the truss and the lighting fixtures is provided through a pantograph and an integrated raceway.

To meet the job's lighting requirements, Robert designed a system that allowed the MMA in-house lighting designers to specify a custom-designed architectural fixture that met all of their requirements and still provide a way of focusing these units remotely. To that end, Apollo Design's Right Arm was a key component of the system. Each of the four trusses contains 18 Right Arm units with an architectural lighting fixture attached. All 72 of these moving yokes are controlled by an ETC Ion console. The console is used for programming presets that provide positioning information to focus the lighting instruments on the exhibit below. These presets are then recorded into and played back on a Doug Fleenor Design (DFD) Architectural Preset 10 station. DMX is sent from this station to a DFD 5-way DMX Isolated Splitter/Amplifier which then sends one run of DMX to each truss. Dimming for lamp intensity is provided by an existing Lutron Dimming system.

Together, the lighting components and self-climbing trusses provide an integrated system that gives the MMA the easy access and focusing capabilities they desired.

Providing access for the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Credit: Theatre Projects
Providing access for the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Credit: Theatre Projects
Providing access for the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Credit: Theatre Projects