Available Light recently completed both the Architectural and Exhibition lighting design for the new Grammy Museum in Cleveland, Mississippi – a satellite location for the Los Angeles original. It took five years, $20 million, and a dedicated, hardworking team but—as was witnessed at the March 2016 opening—the results were spectacular! Considered the birthplace of America’s music, and with more Grammy winners than any other state, Mississippi was the perfect satellite location. Owned and operated locally but curated by the original L.A.-based institution, Mississippi’s Grammy Museum boasts 28,000 square feet on the Delta State University campus. The building, designed by Dale Partners Architects, is a modern glass & steel structure starkly juxtaposed against a pastoral farmland backdrop.
The brief on the exterior lighting was a balancing act of exposing the striking building envelope for nighttime viewing while enticing visitors to peer through the transparent sections to a seductive interior lobby experience. Lighting for all façade elements (I.D. Sign, large photo mural, corrugated steel panels, dramatic portal entry, etc.) were lit with carefully tuned and controlled LED luminaires. Inside, the Exhibits & Graphics program, designed by Gallagher & Associates, seamlessly integrates into the architectural space. The lobby features three super graphics, lit with a blend of subtly color-changing wash fixtures and framing projectors. The ceiling panel gaps provided the perfect location to tuck linear fixture downlights, providing ample light for the 28-foot-tall vertical space. The combination of ambient, color-changing, theatrical accent and daylight all converge to create a dynamic lobby expression.
Inside the exhibit galleries, patrons discover an immersive and dynamic environment embracing the many facets, personalities, and emotions of the richly complex music industry. Visitors to the museum experience a timeline of America’s music as it roared through Mississippi. Interactive exhibits allow visitors to record their own music, dance to famous songs, and explore various historical artifacts that include outrageous garments and well-loved instruments. Patrons become participants in the action, not merely passive witnesses. The wide-ranging color pallet and richly patterned light of an all LED lighting system evokes the theatrical feeling of musical performances. With the extensive use of interactive features and touch tables the Grammy Museum is considered one of the most highly technologically advanced museums in the south. A careful balancing act between lighting and media presentation ensures the technology is enjoyed in a space free from glare. Artifacts are woven into the presentation throughout, requiring strict lighting conservation solutions including the elimination of all UV and IR radiation. Despite a modest budget, the lighting system was designed to be both simple to install and require minimal maintenance. Also crucial was providing flexibility to accommodate rotating exhibits.
The team of Available Light designers was led by Derek Barnwell on the architectural side and Ted Mather on the exhibit experience. Working with the same lighting design firm for both architecture and exhibits created continuity, unity, and open communication. The Grammy Museum was truly a joint effort, not only internally at Available Light, but with all of the project team members and owners.