Lightfactor Sales

has supplied the majority of the lighting fixtures for two completely new floors and a refitted entrance area at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in Amsterdam.

The £2.6 million project was the first major refurbishment work at the museum since it opened in 1991. The entrance area and the fifth floor of the exhibition were completely gutted, and a new mezzanine sixth floor was added, plus food-service facilities. The installation had to take place during an 11-week period. Suppliers, installers, designers, and the client all collaborated closely, and a constant flow of communications ensured a smooth operation.

The Tussaud's Group technical project manager Tim Coucher, based in London, coordinated the technical specs. The new build was divided into three technical areas--lighting hardware, AV, and electrical installation. Lightfactor won the contract to supply the lighting hardware; Dutch companies VHS and GTI won the AV and electrical installation contracts, respectively. Steve Wentworth, who designed the original lighting scheme in 1991, came onboard again in the same role, and John Leonard of Aura Sound did the audio design for the new exhibition areas.

The new Grand Hall Area contains politicians, religious leaders, peacemakers, royal personalities, and other historical figures, and is characterized by subtle, understated lighting and a decorous atmosphere. The new lively and colorful music section features a selection of pop stars from James Brown to Bono.

On the sixth floor, the sports section is lit with MR-16s and a number of LDR 500W floodlights that give a high but localized ambient level to this area. In the film area, de Ville converted large traditional film lights, concealing low-voltage lamps in the fittings. LDR Tempo 500W fresnels are placed at a distance, giving the effect of the figures being lit by the film lights but not the overpowering levels of light.

This area opens out into a split-level section with a prominent video wall and a stunning glass staircase, lit with LEDs backlighting a Prismex installation (done by Stylus Marketing), leading down to the final section of the exhibit which features popular entertainers like Marilyn Monroe.

Lightfactor supplied a variety of instruments: nearly 500 James Thomas MR-16 birdies with integral dimmers, chosen for their neat, unobtrusive appearance; Mad Manufacturing ITM moving-mirror lights; LDR Tempo fresnels with long-life bulbs; Optikinetics GoboPro fixtures, and customized Thomas PAR-36 and -46 cans, utilizing 12.8V halogen sealed beam units, to produce a tight, crisp beam. These lights are mounted on custom internally wired bars also manufactured by James Thomas Engineering.

Lightfactor also supplied AVR color-changing downlights and special connection cables, surface-mounted UV fittings, chandelier bulbs, and several hundred meters of three-circuit tracking. LightProcessor Power Station II dimmers powered areas where fixtures were not powered by the track. For the entrance area downstairs from the exhibition, Lightfactor supplied ETC Source Four ellipsoidals and PARs, mounted on specially fabricated curved internally wired bars also supplied by James Thomas to the client's specifications.

Lightfactor's Paul de Ville has been supplying lighting to The Tussaud's Group for some 16 years and enjoys a close working relationship with them. De Ville undertook reviewing all the drawings and worked with Coucher and Wentworth to finalize the equipment. He also developed installation crib sheets for the electrical contractors to work from, and made several site visits. This was important, as Wentworth's designs included several complicated shapes, and so much gear was supplied from the UK in such a short space of time.

De Ville comments, "The only way to achieve a goal this ambitious in a timescale this intense is to work as a unified creative/installation team, and that's what happened. With the suppliers kept fully informed of all parameters, we could coordinate all equipment arrival, fit within the installation timetables, and ensure a smooth-running, punctually delivered project. This project was a joy to work on because it was so well managed by Tim and his team both in Amsterdam and England. Working with Steve is always good because he knows exactly what he wants out of the design, and communicates it fluently and in terms that are useful to an equipment supplier."