In Myrtle Beach, SC, a new H.L. Hunley exhibit is bringing maritime adventure to "Broadway at the Beach," a 350-acre entertainment, shopping, and dining complex. The Hunley exhibit is an interactive tour that reveals the history of H.L. Hunley, the confederate submarine that, in 1864, sank to the ocean floor after becoming the first American submarine to successfully sink an enemy ship.

The exhibit focuses on educating visitors about the science of the submarine: how it was constructed, sunk, and finally raised. One of the tour’s highlights is a replica of the Hunley that gives an idea of what it would have been like to sit inside.

As lighting designers for the exhibit, Visual Terrain Inc. needed to create a believable atmosphere that drew visitors into the Hunley’s underwater world. "As a theatrical designer, the very nature of designing a look that simulated the underwater environment was both intriguing and challenging," says principal lighting designer Peter Maradudin. "The goal was to light the exhibit as if you were inside the submarine under water. We chose a range of blue hues projected through various patterns and animated with movement."

The design for this exhibit had to be flexible, says project designer Matt Levesque. "Within the exhibit space are both display cases and a multi-media show," explains Levesque. "Lighting had to be bright enough to view the visual material and, at the same time, dim enough to watch the show." A combination of balance and isolation satisfied both the needs of the designers and the expectations of the visitors.

Replica of the Cival War-era H.L. Hunley submarine

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