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To create new galleries at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art to showcase 29 Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works from the Marion and Henry Bloch collection, BNIM reconfigured 9,000-square-feet within the institution’s historic Beaux-Arts building, opening up sight lines and adding more than 200 linear feet of wall space. The architects also took advantage of an important element of the 1930s structure: its laylights, above which the original architects created a 5-foot-tall attic space for installation of the lighting. “The building was thoughtfully configured for the lighting and its maintenance,” says lighting designer Richard Renfro. He and his team replaced the existing lighting above the laylights, which were modified to correspond to the new floor plan with Ketra G2 linear fixtures. These provide ambient illumination throughout the galleries. The interior of the attic space is painted white, enhancing reflectivity as well as the ceiling’s new slumped glass, so that it appears to emit a soft glow. Tracks installed below the laylight hold Ketra PAR38 lamps, to project the desired light onto the individual pieces of art. All the lamps are RGBW LED, wireless, color and white-tunable, and individually addressable with the manufacturer’s own MESH control system. This enables the museum staff to change color temperature and intensity according to a curator’s objectives. Lighting for the whole suite of galleries can be managed. Alternatively, each lamp can be “adjusted and adapted on the fly” from a handheld device, for special events and educational programs, says Jake Ludemann, the museum’s lighting designer. For instance, during a recent presentation for a group of children, he was able to approximate how the collection’s Water Lilies painting by Monet would appear over the course of a day in natural light, from sunrise to sunset, within a span of 15 minutes. Says Renfro, “The technology is allowing museum visitors to see art in a new way.”


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Renfro Design Group: Richard Renfro, Sarah Randall, Fabio Tuchiya, Silvia Mazzarri, Santiago Suarez




Interior ambient lighting: Interior Ambient Lighting:

Exhibit Lighting:
Track and track heads: Edison Price Lighting
Lamps: Ketra

Lighting Controls: