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The Capital Museum first opened its doors to the public in 1981; it subsequently moved to its present location in the west of Beijing in 2006. Now the museum is comprised of 14 exhibition halls with over 5,600 exhibits, all excavated in Beijing. It is a world-class museum highly praised for its grand architecture, rich collection, and advanced technologies.
The Capital Museum’s architect, Cui Kai, made use of traditional materials including stone, bronze, timber, and bricks, along with modern architectural elements like steel frames and glass walls to fuse classic and modern beauty. The museum consists of three buildings including a rectangular exhibition hall, an oval hall, and a bar-shaped office building. Among the three buildings are an atrium and a bamboo garden, which make use of sunlight and rippling water to create a natural environment with a hue of culture.
To create an effective lighting design that is also energy efficient, Capital Museum deployed the GRAFIK 6000 light control system throughout the museum. “The GRAFIK 6000 is perfect for future expansion due to its ability to work at different scales of complexity,” said Wang Rui, of the museum’s engineering department. The GRAFIK 6000, which connects multiple controllers to centrally or individually control 512 zones and 4,000 circuits, is especially suitable for the museum’s various exhibition areas.
In a museum, lighting is the key to bringing out the best qualities of the artifacts. The Capital Museum needs different lighting effects that best fit the different scenes, exhibition halls, or exhibits being displayed, in order to put the installations in the best light and the visitors in the most appropriate ambience. For example, in the hall showing Buddhist statues, lights were projected from top to bottom giving the statues a solemn appearance and emphasizing the facial expressions on each Buddha. Fluorescent lights were also used to sketch the statues’ contours.
Another critical area to consider was possible color fading on materials like pottery, paintings, or jades as a result of prolonged exposure to light.
The museum chose Lutron occupancy sensors, which detect human presence with infrared sensors, so the lights are only turned on when visitors are close to the exhibits and dimmed when they are away. This not only significantly reduces the possible damage of light exposure to the exhibits but also helps save energy.
Another challenge is the occasional instability of local electricity voltage, which can cause the lights to flicker when dimmed. The Lutron patented RTISS technology solves the problem by filtering line noise from the electric current entering the dimming system, ensuring stable and high quality lighting effects.
“We benefit from the easy and centralized control of the Lutron GRAFIK 6000 system integrated with our audio visual facilities and building management system. The GRAFIK 6000 is also connected to the museum’s security, video monitoring, and fire protection systems,” said Wang. Lighting in a particular zone or the whole museum will be turned on and flashing in case of intrusion, which can act as a deterrent and alert.
Wang added: “The Lutron system was chosen because of product quality, reliability, and long history. Lutron’s positioning is very much in line with the museum as “being the best and advanced in technology.” She was particularly impressed by the easy control, clear interface, and reliable performance of Lutron solutions. “Lutron has been very helpful from installation to programming and maintenance, which made the whole process very smooth,” said Wang.
In addition, Lutron dimming systems can save energy and extend lamp life. Dimming light level by 10% will double lamp life and reduce energy consumption by 10%. Lamp life can be extended 20 times by dimming half of the light level. ln the long term, this can significantly reduce the depletion of resources and help protect the environment, which is in line with the green design of the museum.