Shedding light on natural history in Paris

March 30, 2015

The flagship of Paris’ National Museum of Natural History (MNHN), The Grand Gallery of Evolution (GGE), is celebrating its 20-year anniversary with an update of the lighting system that was originally implemented back in 1994. A new system with more than 200 Tripix range fixtures and 36 Exterior 410s was installed to give new life to the GGE.

In late 2009 the decision to renew was made with a vision of bringing back sound and light to the visitors. Twice a day for 15 years, there’s been a lighting show in GGE which imitates the atmosphere of a day in Africa with blazing sun and stormy skies. The limitations of the old system started to show, both in terms of outdated technology and high power consumption. Therefore, MNHN decided to look at LED as a possible light source, given recent years’ development and progress in LED technology. After several unsuccessful attempts of working with manufacturers, MNHN came to Martin Professional to ask for advice on a new lighting solution that would be able to revive the visitor experience as well as  drastically reduce power consumption.

Achieving the right effect
Martin Professional developed a solution from their Tripix range for three main areas of the gallery: The side wall windows, the sky and the skylight windows along the edge of the sky. Onsite testing of the fixtures was used to overcome the technical challenges of lighting both the sky and the surrounding skylight windows.

The lighting design featured Martin’s Tripix 1200 LED strips that provide a  “full-color” LED mix with ideal color mixing options 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.

Recreating a natural environment
The vision for the new solution was to represent the biodiversity of the many evolutionary factors, including the place and role of mankind in evolution. A caravan of animals takes center piece in the gallery, and MNHN wanted to add to the visitor experience by using lighting and sound to create a sense of movement to the animals.

The light show recreates a typical day on the African savannah from dawn till dusk with a short built-in storm sequence that concludes with a rainbow.

Claude Anne Gauthier, Director of the Galleries Departments, MNHN said:
“We pushed the colors and pushed the technology to get vivid oranges and fluorescent pinks, because in real life a sunset is flourescent pink.”

The technical solution
To allow the wall to play an active role in the show, the wall windows were lit with a linear color changer.

The sky is composed of 9 sections of 4 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.

A desktop computer with Martin M-PC software works as a DMX repeater during daily operation and for special events the M1 takes control of the solution.

Gauthier concluded:
“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.”

Martin equipment
Tripix 1200,147 pcs.
Tripix Wash, 56 pcs.
Exterior 410, 36 pcs.
M1 and M-PC

End user/Installer: Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle
Technical partner: Equipscène
Coding, programming and controller training: Lumières Utiles