New lighting program illuminates Canadian Museum of History

In 2013, the Canadian Museum of History mandated GSM Project to rethink Douglas Cardinal’s iconic Canada Hall. The objective to showcase the content and update the space to modern accessibility standards, but also to create an installation that would offer visitors a fluid path through the space while ensuring a new standard of universal accessibility. Four years later, Canada’s sesquicentennial celebrations saw a revamped space opened to the public, with a new lighting program by Lightemotion knitting the museum’s central spaces together.

Canadian Museum of History. Photo credit: Gordon King

To accomplish such a feat with a maximum spectrum of effects, the team used over 40 kinds of light fixtures. From theatrical floodlights to gobo projectors and miniature LED heads for subtly illuminating even the smallest details of the displays, all equipment used was carefully studied and adjusted in order to create a unique path of light.

Photo credit: Gordon King

According to François Roupinian, “Flexibility is important for creating the right lighting.” Nothing was left to chance, with features including interchangeable lenses, zoom, anti-glare accessories, an integrated potentiometer to adjust the lighting level for conservation needs and ambience, and the option to add colour filters. For this purpose, the lighting manufacturers were chosen with particular care so that a wide range of choices would be available to ensure colour consistency.

Photo credit: Gordon King

The original Canada Hall had been a visitor favourite at the museum for 25 years before it was closed in September 2014. The previous year, GSM Project had been named as principal designer for the new project and given the task of presenting the museum’s impressive collection and telling Canada’s story in a way that visitors would find novel, authentic, and thought-provoking.

Photo credit: Gordon King

More than 40 members of the GSM Project team were involved in the project over four years. Working alongside dedicated personnel from the Museum of History (formerly the Museum of Civilization), as well as a large team of architects, engineers, fabricators — including Lightemotion — and media producers, GSM Project delivered a new exhibition that tells the story of Canada from the last ice age to the present day.

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