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Lighting the way for a sustainable gallery of the future

The Science and Industry Museum (@sim_manchester), Manchester, is devoted to inspiring its visitors through ideas that change the world, from the Industrial Revolution to today and beyond. First opened in the 1970s, it is uniquely situated on the oldest surviving passenger railway station and a global heritage site comprising five listed buildings (two of them Grade 1).

A spectacular new 725 square metre flexible Special Exhibitions Gallery was recently opened at the museum, designed by award-winning architectural practice Carmody Groarke, working alongside Manchester building contractor HH Smith & Sons.


The new gallery is situated in the west end of the vaulted basement of the Grade II listed New Warehouse, built in 1882 from red and blue brick, cast and wrought iron, and sandstone, as storage for the Great Western Railway. 


Similarly, used as museum stores until recently, the historic fabric of the lower ground floor has been revealed and restored, allowing visitors to experience the grandeur and scale of the original warehouse space while enjoying new exhibition experiences. 


The old storage spaces have been merged to provide a single room, increasing the museum’s capacity to display world-class science exhibits and host various touring exhibitions.


The front-of-house area has been transformed into a bright and welcoming open-plan space presenting a point of orientation for visitors. 


Skelly and Couch building environment and services engineering consultants specified Concord Sylvania to provide a versatile track lighting solution to reveal the industrial beauty and stunning modern and sustainable design. 


A combination of Lytespan and Lytebeam track systems with emergency modules and Beacon Accent and Muse spotlights are mounted in the main entrance, gallery space, and central walkway. 


The versatile system casts indirect and direct light to illuminate the original architectural features and materials.


A choice of colour temperatures (3000 and 4000K) and beam angles (from 8° spot to a 55° flood) work together to bring out the natural tones and textures of the original building materials and light the modern bespoke fiberglass panels installed to hide services with a warm glow.


The LED spotlights are IR/UV free without heat radiation, ideal for preserving the integrity of exhibits.


Stephen Hoyle, Gallery Maintenance Manager, Museum of Science of Industry commented,

“We chose the Concord Lytespan track and Beacon/Beacon Muse fittings because they offered the style and versatility that we required in our showpiece changing exhibition space.


With the adjustable beam angles, dimming control and the control that the Casambi management system gives us over each individual lamp; to truly allow us to tailor the gallery environment to the exhibition with pinpoint accuracy.”


Sylsmart Standalone controls all the lighting. The wireless, plug-and-play lighting control solution lends itself to the gallery application. The installation is easy, with low upfront costs and low maintenance, minimising disruption to the public space. With this system, the gallery owners can dim, daylight link and colour control with ease.


The Special Exhibitions Gallery is the first project to be completed in the Science and Industry Museum’s multi-million-pound restoration plan, which will conserve and further open the museums globally significant buildings and bring to life the story of the site and past, present and future ideas that change the world

Key Benefits 

Sustainable design 

  • Utilising the latest LED technology, the lighting is energy-efficient and sustainable.

Adjustability with precision control 

  • Easily adjustable, with precision beam control and options, it allows for easy reconfiguration for future changes in exhibits while highlighting the structural form of the building. 

Enhanced user experience 

  • Superior CRI’s of 97 with an R9 value at 90 provides excellent visibility and colour clarity and highlights the contrasting industrial tones of the building fabric.  

Easy Controllability 

  • Sylsmart standalone offers easy control of the track system with low upfront costs. 

Products Used

  • Lytespan
  • Lytebeam track systems
  • Track mounted emergency modules (linked to a CBS)
  • Beacon Accent and Muse with Sylsmart Wireless Bluetooth Control

The Project

  • Services Consultant: Skelly and Couch
  • Architects: Carmody Groarke
  • Building Contractor: HH Smith & Sons.
  • Images: Science and Industry Museum

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