Friday, January 20, 2017

Let there be (new) light

Jeff Bailey (above) and Tyler Wignall (below), both of Des Moines-based Tesdell Electric, have been at the museum this week installing new LED lighting in the Vredenburg Gallery and Library of the Lewis Building. 

Looks like the job will be finished today --- bringing almost to a close a year-long project to update these two rooms, which fill the top floor of the 1975-76 wing --- the first new building constructed on the museum campus after development began during 1966.

The last phase will involve --- finally --- getting everything back into place and restoring order before we open for a new season on May 1. (These rooms were open during the 2016 season, but order had not been fully restored.)

We began early last year by evacuating the two rooms, repainting the walls, then tearing up and replacing what seemed like acres of the original 1975-76 carpet --- durable stuff that none-the-less had served its purpose. Four new cases to house items from the military collection also were installed at that time. All of this project was funded by a generous grant from the Vredenburg Foundation.

New lighting wasn't part of the original plan, although the need for it became increasingly evident. The old lighting system, rows of 1970s-era fluorescents, was too dim and did not extend into two gallery alcloves. Enough funds still were available from the Vredenburg grant to fund about half a lighting project --- so we went ahead.

The result is going to be very bright indeed, but can be adjusted with dimmer switches until the proper level is reached, should that be necessary. It should be possible now to see clearly everything on display in these two areas.

It's going to be great to have this project finished and move on to others. Projects during 2016 also included repairing and residing the north wall of the Lewis Building and paving (thanks to a gift from the Coons Foundation) a parking area just east of it.

Come spring, we'll be replacing sidewalks leading to and from Otterbein Church and improving handicap accessibility to buildings in that part of the campus, also with Coons Foundation funds. And we're getting estimates on rewiring the Stephens House, the 1911 dwelling that is the original building on our campus. So if it isn't one thing, it's another ....

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