German Ivory Museum

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Erbach, Germany

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Lighting design

LichtKunstLicht AG, Bonn


Sichau & Walter Architekten, Fulda


Erbach, Germany

Building owner

Verwaltung der Staatlichen Schlösser, Bad Homburg


Sichau & Walter Architekten, Fulda

ProductsHYDRA ECO - Static White

After the closing of the old location the “Deutsches Elfenbein Museum“ moved into the, until then, unused side rooms of Schloss Erbach. With red walkways in a darkened setting, Sichau & Walter Architekten produced a mystical-seeming setting for the old carving craft which was complemented by the lighting expertise of the LichtKunstLicht office. In the following, the lighting planners Stephanie Große-Brockhoff and Andreas Schulz explain their lighting concept and the intentions behind it.

Display cases of partly satinated glass

The showcase panes which are satinated in their lower thirds are illuminated with edge lighting which is emitted from their bases. In a continuous transition, the satin finish becomes clear glass. Thanks to the edge lighting, a kid of soft brightness is produced which – similar to mist – veils the object carriers of the ivory figurines. In this way, the impression is created that the carvings, as it were, luminously rise out of the mist. The converters – for the edge lighting of the satinated glass as well as for the spotlights – are hidden from view in an accessible cavity in the base of the showcase. The passable walk-way and its low balustrade are covered with red leather. With a concealed LED light band in the upstand, the walking surface becomes a free-floating path in an intangible, completely dissolved spatial envelope. For this purpose, openings were milled into the upper sides. The openings, diagonally directed at the walkway, contain LED light bands which are protected with a honeycomb grid against views from long axes.

Historic cabinets and variable lighting solutions

In one room, existing historic wall cabinets are used in which a wealth of small objects is mounted to the back wall covered with molleton. The exhibits are accentuated with linear lighting concealed in the furniture. The LED strips for this are arranged horizontally at the top as well as vertically running down the sides. The luminaires were positioned in such a way that an optimum of illumination combines with a minimum of visibility of the sources of light. The last room, intended for temporary exhibitions, currently sees the visitor off with a glimpse at still unprocessed elephant- and mammoth tusks and thus also makes the controversial aspect of the exhibition theme noticeable. The showcase spotlights, the edge lighting, the walkway illumination and also the lighting of the existing cabinets can be dimmed and operated by remote control for individual showcases or rooms. The dimming values of the individual components are adjusted in such a way that the aspects of staging and space-creating are optimally taken into consideration. Coordinated with the dominating shades of red of the showcase bases and the access walkway, warm-white colour of light was chosen for all the lighting elements. With the aerial perspective, this makes the exhibits stand out from their surroundings even more and materializes them through focal glow. With concealed, low-glare light sources, LichtKunstLicht thus increases the exhibition dramaturgy rich in contrasts and in this way brilliantly stages the treasures.

Source: AIT 9.2017, the whole text can be viewed here

The project was nominated for the German Lighting Design Award 2018:

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