The resulting lightshow recreates a typical day on the African Savanna from dawn to dusk
France - The world-renowned flagship exhibit of Paris' National Museum of Natural History (MNHN), The Grand Gallery of Evolution, celebrated its 20-year anniversary by updating its lighting system that was originally implemented in 1994. The Gallery's centrepiece, which recreates the natural environment of the African Savanna with a caravan of animals, uses a sound and light show to recreate day/night cycles of the Savanna.

With outdated technology, high power consumption and the show playing twice a day for the past 15 years, the old system was in desperate need of an upgrade. To help revitalize the visitor experience, the MNHN brought in Martin Professional and over 200 Martin Tripix fixtures were installed throughout the gallery.

The MNHN wanted the lighting and sound to help create a sense of movement to the animals and Martin then developed a solution for the three main areas of the gallery: the side wall windows, the sky and the skylight windows along the edge of the sky. Extensive onsite testing was used to overcome the technical challenges of lighting both the sky and the surrounding skylight windows and a system consisting of Martin's Tripix and Exterior 400 fixtures was put together. The lighting design featured Martin's Tripix 1200 LED strips that provide a full-colour LED mix and the possibility to achieve uniformity with the use of optical diffusers. The powerful fixtures deliver 1,440 lumens on 82 W for up to four feet

The resulting lightshow recreates a typical day on the African Savanna from dawn to dusk with a short built-in storm sequences that concludes with a rainbow. "We pushed the colours and pushed the technology to get vivid oranges and fluorescent pinks, because in real life a sunset is fluorescent pink," said Claude Anne Gauthier, director of the Galleries Departments, MNHN.

The sky is composed of nine sections of four reflective panels, indirectly lighting up a total of 432 panels of frosted glass. Each section is cross-lit with four Exterior 410s. For the skylights, the short distance between the mounting possibilities and the reflective panels required a very wide beam. The Tripix wash was chosen to light this area for its range of optical diffusers that provides the right beam angle while also bringing the same richness in color as the wall installation. In addition, the windows were lit with a linear color changer to allow the wall to play an active role in the show,

Speaking on the success of the new lighting design, Gauthier said, "We now know that the show works really well with the visitors, and we have a feeling that, at least for the majority, they feel that something is happening because of the sound and the lighting that was installed."

(Jim Evans)

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