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White ceiling or black ceiling?

by on February 13, 2012

What color should the ceiling of a museum be? The museum has a white ceiling now. It makes it space brighter, and I’m sure that’s why it was chosen. But it also calls attention to a clutter of lighting fixtures. Through the magic of photoshop, we can make it black:

Should we? What do you think? What messages does it send about being a gallery, or a museum, or a laboratory? What kind of behavior might it encourage? Would it be more welcoming or less?


From → Exhibits

  1. I too am looking for an answer on this exact same question! There sure isn’t a lot of info online about this situation which, I would argue, is very important when dealing with a new museum and making design decisions. What did you find out? Did you end up switching to black? and if so what did you think?

    • Steven Lubar permalink

      We ended up keeping the ceiling white, but changing our lighting. We added louvers (something like these: that cut the glare from the lights. That means that visitors’ eyes are not attracted to the lights, but to the objects being lit. We also added some color filters to some of the lights, to make for more interesting effects. A few hours consulting with a lighting designer made a big difference. We talked to Abernathy Lighting Design,, who did a great job. –Steve

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