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Lighting an Iconic Museum

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TeslaExterior 400x275July 5, 2022

Lighting helps bring visual drama to the recent renovation of the Nikola Tesla Technical Museum in the Croatian capital city of Zagreb. (Before emigrating to the U.S., Tesla was born and raised in what is now Croatia.)

Located in a busy and popular area of the city center, the museum opened in 1954 as a celebration of science, combining education with visitor engagement. It showcases scientific and technical appliances that have played a role in the country’s history, including aircraft, cars, and machinery. The experience pre-dates some of the world’s most notable cultural projects, such as the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

One key exhibition is the demonstration cabinet which promotes the life and work of inventor/engineer Nikola Tesla, who is renowned for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system.

The exhibition is enhanced with a lighting design concept that reflects his achievements. A dynamic blue light represents the famous Colorado coil effect he worked on in the late 1880s in Colorado Springs. The lighting effect – designed by Croatian architectural lighting design firm Skira – is programmed to appear every hour and lasts for approximately 15 seconds.TeslaLandscape 400x275

Skira also developed a lighting scheme for the museum’s façade and landscape lighting, which it accomplished with help from the innovative lighting experts at Canadian manufacturer GVA Lighting. GVA Lighting’s STR9® Series is a completely concealed and integrated linear lighting system within the architecture of the building. The high-power wallwashing and wall-grazing linear LED luminaires delivered the perfect solution, providing excellent versatility with robust IP66- or IP67-rated housings. Two independent rows of linear lights were installed with two different color temperatures – 3000K and 4000K – to meet the needs of the surfaces they illuminate. A combination of lengths and RGBW variants have also been incorporated into the scheme.

The Technical Museum is classified as a site of cultural heritage by the Croatian Ministry of Culture, making it a protected building. With this in mind, the team at Skira were focused on ensuring the lighting solutions are unobtrusive and do not impact on the appearance of the museum.

Achieving aesthetic subtlety involved many steps. GVA Lighting luminaires were installed along a custom metal gutter that was mounted and painted in a finish that matched the façade color. Landscape lighting included recessed floor lamps as well as surface-mounted reflectors that illuminate several exterior exhibits and trees. A small substation is bathed in blue light, which contributes to the overall lighting experience.

Dean Skira, Founder & Visionary Officer at Skira, said, “The Nikola Tesla Technical Museum is such an iconic cultural project, we were thrilled to design the lighting system. It was vital that the exterior lighting adds to the city nightscape and the experience of the museum’s architecture and does not detract from the exhibits and experiential aspects. GVA Lighting’s solutions deliver this perfectly, allowing for the precise blend of concealed lighting with the right lighting levels to ensure practicality.”

The simple and elegant architectural lighting ensures the museum looks attractive from the adjacent busy road, while the integration of solutions and dynamic features further reinforce the celebration of technology that the museum represents.



Client: Technical Museum Nikola Tesla

Lighting Designer: Skira Architectural Lighting

Photo/Video Credits: Jana Jocif

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