Lighting the Wings at Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM): An Electrical Distributor Point of View – Hands-on Approach and Trust

Line Goyette

January 31, 2024

The Wings at Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) Illuminated

“This is a wonderful example of collaboration between Hein Electric Supply Company, the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) staff, Enterprise Lighting, Pieper Electric and Lumenpulse. It is an honor to be the lighting designer for this monumental project,”

Julie Baugnet,
LC, Senior Lighting Designer

Hein Electric Supply Co.

This quote plus the photos of the illumination of the famous wings of the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) caught our attention. We wanted to know more about this project, from a distributor’s point of view. We met with Chris Stoming, President of Hein Electric Supply Co. and Julie Baugnet, Senior Lighting Designer, to talk about it.

Why involve an electrical distributor in a lighting project?

“Short answer would be: to have a reference/expertise in all the stages of a project,” answered Chris spontaneously.

Hein Electric Supply Co. is an independent wholesale distributor of electrical supplies for commercial and residential contractors in southeast Wisconsin and offers a full-service lighting department. Chris underlines the importance of long-term time trustful relationships with a distributor and the changing role of the electrical distributor since the arrival of LED lighting.

“Lighting represents a significant portion of our business. We offer a turnkey solution to support the contractor, from order, shipment to project management and warranty and maintenance,” said Chris. “For the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) project we also worked directly with the museum to recommend applicable products once we understood their vision and goals.”

Chris Stoming,
Hein Electric Supply Co

“In addition to being able to provide solutions, we have adopted a hands-on approach to lighting to support our customers. We offer a full project management service to the customer, while we also have a commercial quotations department, multi-family design and national account presence. He added, “for the last ten years, I think it’s safe to say we have a true dedication to the lighting market.”

How was Hein involved in the recommendation/proposal process? Was the contractor involved other than during the installation process? What was the role of the lighting agent?
The MAM recently released its new look and will be lit every Thursday evening throughout the spring.

Julie shared input regarding the process for this project. “It all comes down to relationships, which is the bedrock of being a distributor. Five years ago, the MAM wanted to start their conversion to LED lighting on the exterior. Through this process I was introduced to the manager and maintenance team. One of the first projects was putting all new fixtures in their newly acquired parking garage across the street from the museum.”

“We supported their lighting needs, building our relationship and creating trust in each other. The original light fixtures on the Burke Brise Soleil (wings) were white metal halide, for a quick and inexpensive fix the maintenance guy bought some LED fixtures on Amazon. They worked fine, but some people wanted to have color, similar to the Hoan bridge crossing the river, close to the museum.”

“I did research on site, even at night. The architectural plan did not give us the emplacements of the light fixtures. I was allowed to go out on the gangplank to take measurements and check on the angling of the current fixtures. A summer storm had gone through the area and was out over Lake Michigan when I was up there. Very cool sight to see, all in all, it was fun. Then it was time to recommend products.”

“I knew we needed a color source that would have the brilliance and saturation needed for this installation. A big advantage was the material we were reflecting light off of, was white. We had some limitations when it came to existing wiring, so this was another consideration needed when selecting the lighting system.”

The MAM recently released its new look and will be lit every Thursday evening throughout the spring.

“As I have done other projects with Lumenpulse and have a good relationship with the agent representing them, I felt that Lumenpulse’s Lumencloud solution would be able to meet the museum requirements. They wanted the capability of offsite control, be able to change the colors of the wings to support local events, Lumencloud was the perfect answer to this request. A representative of Lumenpulse created a 3D computer rendering of the project to present to the museum, helping bring the concept to life.”

In reflecting on the role that a distributor can bring to a sophisticated lighting project, much comes down to trust. Distributors can share product knowledge, bring experience from working on many different projects. Have relationships with multiple lighting agents and access to, potentially, hundreds of lines and are the coordinators of product expediting.

Further, they can support the project with ongoing support via the contractor or directly to the end user if there are performance / warranty issues.

In Chris’s words, “There has to be a trust factor between all the entities. We spend a lot of pre-sales time with contractors and end users. The agents support us throughout the process, technically and otherwise. Distributors committed to supporting their lighting customers are getting away from the traditional model built a hundred years ago and are adding more value to the process.”

Chris Stoming,
Hein Electric Supply Co
The MAM recently released its new look and will be lit every Thursday evening throughout the spring.

MAM Project Details


Agent: Steve Kokesh, Enterprise Lighting 
Electrical Contractor: Nate Furru, Pieper Electric 
Client: Dan Somers, Director of Campus Facilities & Grounds, Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM)
Lighting Design: Julie Baugnet, LC Hein Electric Supply Co. 
Products: Lumencloud – Products – Lumenpulse 
Photography: Charlie Antoine Photography | Above MKE @abovemk

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