To serve as a better showcase for the masterpieces it houses, the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) recently “put on a new face.” The Long Beach, CA museum, which features the works of contemporary Latin American artists and sculptors, constructed a parapet wall surrounding the entire building to cover its original dome-shaped structure.

The wall is adorned with 2’ and 3’ square openings running the entire circumference, giving the building a Spanish Mission look. This architectural parapet detail is stunningly accentuated with LED lights from Acclaim Lighting, which are mounted inside the wall and fill each square with a palette of rich, slowly-changing colors.

MOLAA’s color-changing parapet is the artistry of Richard Rutherford (Rutherford Design, Northridge, CA). Asked by the museum to come up with a cost-efficient, easy-to-run solution for lighting the new façade, Rutherford chose Acclaim X-Bar LEDs.

A DMX-controllable RGB-color-mixing LED tube, the X-Bar comes in four different lengths and is rated at IP 67 for outdoor use. Rutherford installed 125 X-Bar 500s (500 mm) to light the 2’ squares, which are 1’deep and comprise the majority of the wall’s openings. The larger 3’ openings (2’ depth) are located over the building’s front sign and are illuminated with X-Bar 875s (875 mm).

“The X-Bar was perfect for the job,” says Rutherford. “They were simple to install and program.” The whole system runs on a DMX playback system and two 15A power circuits on time clocks, he noted. “We installed the IP rated UL power supplies and DMX data distributors in NEMA enclosures, and the system was fairly plug and play from there.”

The programming could have been far more complex, because the X-Bars are “capable of doing a lot more than we were asking them to,” he adds. However, given the scale of the building exterior, Rutherford elected to go with simple color fill-ups and chases that are more discernible at long distances. “At the end of the parking lot, you’re 100’ away, and the eye can only take in so much detail. So we decided to simply make them 3-channel RGBs just by sequencing the boxes. Most of the time it does gentle color fades and fill-ups. There are three macros, and they have one-button control over macros 1, 2, and 3.”

Along with the simplicity of operation, MOLAA administrators were very pleased with the budget-friendliness of Acclaim X-bars, notes Rutherford. “They were looking at a different supplier, but in the end we were probably half as much and they were twice as happy.”