‘The Mapparium’ by Focus Lighting

Mapparium Boston - Ryan Fischer - Hi Res-3

Focus Lighting was commissioned by the Mary Baker Eddy Library at the First Church of Christ, Scientist to redesign the lighting at their Mapparium exhibit. The 26-foot diameter, stained-glass globe offers visitors a three-dimensional view of the world during the year 1935 (when the globe was built). Standing on a glass bridge just under the equator, visitors to Mapparium are presented with a 10-minute light and sound-guided tour of the world as it was. Focus Lighting’s intent for the redesign was to use light and technology as tools to give the Library’s staff complete control of the exhibit’s show.

Mapparium Boston - Ryan Fischer - Hi Res-11

Mapparium lives in a 3-story-tall room at the Mary Baker Eddy Library. The room, painted completely white, works to reflect light projecting from 177 outward-pointing LEDs mounted around the globe. The abnormal shape of the room presented Focus with a challenge as the design would require a very specific aiming plan. “We wanted to use light to precisely isolate various geographic regions, so we conducted mock-ups on-site to determine the appropriate quantity, brightness and aiming of each fixture,” says principal designer Brett Andersen.

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An update from RGB to RGBAW LED technology greatly extended the range of possible colors, allowing for much subtler changes – from the beautiful pastels created with white light, to the extra warmth amber LEDs provided. The new LEDs also offered a much wider beam spread, and with triple the brightness, allowed the lighting designer to use 26 fewer fixtures to light the globe.

Focus Lighting implemented a new user-friendly control system, creating a “kit of parts” made up of many pre-built looks and groups that allow the Mapparium team to develop new shows for the exhibit in the future, without the need for a professional programmer. Additionally, the lighting design team created a web app that gives docents the ability to highlight countries, continents, and bodies of water with the touch of an iPad.

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Updated programming abilities, a wider range of colors, and precise fixture aiming all work together to produce a dynamic new lighting design for the Mapparium exhibit.

Lighting Designers:
Brett Andersen
Ryan Fischer
Jon Blitstein

Photo Credits: Ryan Fischer


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