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The Science Museum of Minnesota
January 2000

The new Science Museum of Minnesota, located on the bank of the Mississippi River in downtown St. Paul, MN, opened its doors to the public in January of 2000. The museum houses several exhibit halls along with an Omni/Imax theatre, laboratories, a collection storage facility (home to over 1 million objects), and public meeting spaces. While these spaces all have different functions, the lighting and power systems for each had to take into consideration flexibility and ease of modification.

Of greatest concern for flexibility were the exhibit halls. The initial philosophy for exhibit areas was to create a "black box" environment. Design features had to be incorporated into these areas to allow the space to change along with the exhibit. Also, no wiring was allowed in any exhibit hall floor slab. To accommodate both criteria, a series of distribution boxes containing connection points that are wired to dimming racks were provided. These distribution boxes serve all of the exhibit halls' lighting and power needs. Located above the metal support system ceiling grid, the boxes are easily accessible by museum staff yet out of the public way. Modular units were designed that attach to the metal support system. They provide the local connection points for individual lighting and power and also allow for attachment of the exhibit light fixtures. These modular units can be placed in any random order/location on the metal support system ceiling and can be connected to the distribution boxes quickly and easily (an important feature requested by the Owner).

The wiring system supporting the distribution boxes originates at programmable dimming racks. Control of the dimming modules can be accessed at the dimming rack, from remote PC plug-in locations, or form a master PC. All of the exhibit hall dimming racks are connected together and interface with the main building lighting control system. This allows for a single point of access to the entire building lighting control system.

The flexibility and ease of use offered by the lighting, lighting control, and power systems designed for the Science Museum of Minnesota were praised by the museum staff as having the capability to support their needs now, as well as into the future.

 

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