Friday, 23 September 2016




From a conservationist standpoint, light is often viewed as an enemy, causing damage to objects within a museum collection. However, light can be used to create unique displays that inspire visitor engagement. This is seen in the new Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) exhibit entitled: Chihuly.

I was really impressed with the way the exhibit controlled light. Throughout the exhibit there are interesting displays that reflect, absorb, and manipulate the light in order to complement the glass work itself.

I think the best example of this mastery of light is seen in the Persian Ceiling. The Persian Ceiling has many works of glass arranged to form a ceiling and there are lights shining above the artefact.

Personal Photo Credit: Hayley Mae Jones
The art installation is enclosed in a room with cream coloured walls. These cream walls/floor of the exhibit were a beautiful canvas for the multi-coloured light reflecting through the art work. This showed off the natural beauty of the glass work, while compelling visitors to look up towards the ceiling.

Personal Photo Credit: Hayley Mae Jones
The multi-coloured light also drew my eyes upwards towards the placement of the object, and made visitors arch their necks. The light really felt like a part of the object itself.

Personal Photo Credit: Hayley Mae Jones
The ROM also provided visitors a place to sit and lie down within this exhibit space providing visitors with different perspectives and methods of experiencing the light shining through the art work. This allowed the visitors to view the glass work, and light from different angles.

Museums should take into consideration, how light can be used to create different types of visitor experiences, and how light can dramatically impact an exhibition.  Light is what allows visitors to view objects within a collection, and poor lighting design can cause a negative impact on the visitor experience.  That doesn't mean that all museums should push for elaborate light shows within their exhibitions.  Dramatic lighting effects are not always possible, due to the materials and condition of the objects displayed. Museums should take into consideration how to best use light to meet their exhibition, collection, and visitor needs.

That being said, the Persian Ceiling shows how combining objects and light can create a unique visitor experience.

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