RBC I The Rio Blanco County Historical Society and the White River Museum will celebrate the completion of the first phase of the lighting project at an open house reception and recognition ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 8 between 3:30 and 5 p.m. at the museum located at 565 Park St. Ellene Meece, RBCHS president, welcomes the Meeker community and Meeker Sheepdog Classic guests to join in the celebration and tour the museum to appreciate the exceptional effect of new state-of-the-art museum lighting technology. Refreshments will be served.
Special guests and speakers will include Meeker Mayor Mandi Etheridge, representatives of the Freeman Fairfield Charitable Trust committee, White River Electric Association, Rio Blanco County Commissioners’ staff, Danny DeWitt, owner of Weatherford Electric who served as project electrical contractor, the Meeker Lodging Tax Board, Randy Schindler Plumbing, et al.
The Museum lighting project designer and engineer, Nancy Johnson, president of Fabray Architectural Lighting of Denver, and president of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America [IESNA], will be the featured speaker with a presentation entitled “Lighting the Future to Preserve our Past.” Nancy will explain the design considerations, funding and desired outcomes in the project to preserve the fragile and irreplaceable art and artifacts of the museum’s extensive collections and to greatly improve visual comfort and presentation of exhibits with modern energy-efficient lighting.
The museum is recognized by “History Colorado — State Historical Society” as the only curio-type museum in Colorado. The Germans have a term for such unique collections known as “Wunderkammer” meaning “all things wonderful.” A curio museum differs from conventional museums which generally feature only focused displays or dioramas of specific depictions and thus a relatively limited display of extensive art and artifacts.
For many decades, pioneer families of Rio Blanco County have donated their priceless family art and artifacts or other memorabilia to be conserved and displayed by the White River Museum as a legacy of the past for future generations to enjoy. The museum is located in the original barracks constructed shortly after the White River Ute uprising in 1879, which housed soldiers and officers for several years. After the military post was discontinued, the Meeker Township was founded and the barracks were first used as private residences, and later became the home of the White River Museum.
In the past few years, a serious concern has been raised about obsolete, harmful and ineffective conventional fluorescent lighting used in the White River Museum. Conventional fluorescent lighting emits ultraviolet radiation [UV] which is known to cause fading and irreversible damage to sensitive pigments and dyes of photographs, art, fabrics and other priceless objects. Moreover the light produced has poor color balance and does not accurately reproduce the actual true colors of exhibits. Viewer comfort and effective illumination of museum displays are of highest priority. Existing unshielded fluorescent lighting causes disability glare and reflections from glass and displays (where lamps are in the observer’s field of view of the exhibits) and makes viewing of the displays very difficult.
In July 2011, Johnson met with the board of directors and lighting committee to evaluate the museum and to make recommendations. As a result of her expert evaluation and proposal for enhanced museum lighting, her services were contracted through support by a Fairfield Charitable Trust grant. Following an extensive site visit and interviews with the board’s lighting committee, she completed a comprehensive and state-of-the-art museum lighting design and engineering plan, and a projected cost analysis to upgrade all museum lighting with a prioritized, phased approach. Seven phases were identified to provide a comprehensive document which can be submitted to various philanthropic foundations, corporations, private benefactors, et al, who may wish to contribute to this essential conservation project.
A special recommendation by Johnson included developing a vision and mission statement for improving “user-friendliness” and identifying the intended purpose of all museum exhibits to make them more interesting. Moreover, it is essential to tell a story associating the exhibit memorabilia and the pioneer families who contributed them, thus making the connection as a “living history experience” possible for museum patrons. Accordingly, many hours were spent by lighting committee members in assessing and making recommendations for improvements which will be gradually implemented and will make the “wunderkammer” curio museum all the more attractive and interesting to the thousands of visitors who annually enjoy the plethora of unique exhibits.
State-of-the-art warm light-emitting diode [LED] and UV-filtered fluorescent shielded luminaires have been installed to provide optimal visual comfort and exhibit detail. LED lights have a projected life of more than 50,000 hours without degradation of lumen output so will last for many years without maintenance or a need to replace lamps. They are nearly 95 percent efficient so produce very little heat when compared to fluorescent or incandescent lamps which are far less efficient, and contain no hazardous materials such as mercury. A computerized occupancy sensor control system switches lights off in rooms that are not occupied by patrons or staff, but will turn on instantly when the room is occupied. Optimal lighting of exhibits includes shielding the light source from the view of the observer to eliminate visual discomfort and glare.
Next phases and funding needs
Although the first phase is now funded, and was recently completed, RBC Historical Society is seeking additional funding for the remaining six phases. For more information, please contact the museum at 970-878-9982 or email Ellene Meece at email@example.com.
In the next phase of the lighting project, a special application of passive solar UV-filtered lighting through use of “Solatubes” will provide day lighting to the museum’s interior for optimal visual effect and to complement specialized museum lighting thus saving substantial energy costs.
The RBC Historical Society wishes to express sincere appreciation to the Freeman Fairfield Charitable Trust and to the White River Electric Association as well as private donors for their generous grants and gifts which have made it possible to move ahead with the first phase of the lighting renovation. This phase permitted installation of a master digital lighting control system, new wiring of lighting circuits, and the installation of state-of-the-art light-emitting diode [LED] luminaires and UV-filtered fluorescent wash luminaires in the five rooms of the oldest part of the museum.
Please join the lighting committee and board of directors in this worthwhile quest for 21st century lighting enhancements as a part of the Museum’s vision “Lighting the Future to Preserve our Past.”
RBC Historical Society also has an e-mail list serve for members and patrons: firstname.lastname@example.org. To subscribe send an email with your email address and your name to email@example.com.
The RBCHS board of directors and lighting committee members are: Ellene Meece, president and lighting committee chair; Gayle Rogers, vice president. Lighting Committee: Sue Hicken, secretary; Trudy Burris, treasurer; board members Sparky Pappas, Tony Weiss, Chris Uphoff, Joe Sullivan. Associate lighting committee members: Phyllis Lake, grant writer; Ellen Reichert, financial advisor; Bob Amick, technical lighting consultant.