Fiberoptic Lighting

An exhibition at the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum offers insights into the fascinating history of copper mining. (Photo: Privat/YNAO)
Bernhard Gerl und Thea Marcoux

Magical Light

Bisbee, the stronghold of the American copper industry, had to wait for years to hold its own mineral exhibition. Thanks to the generous assistance of the Smithsonian Institution, as well as private donations, the Bisbee Museum now showcases these minerals.

The small city of Bisbee, located in Arizona’s southeast, is home to one of the richest copper mines in the United States. Copper ore was mined here from 1880 until the mid 1970s. More then just copper, however, was mined. Countless minerals also found their way into museums and expositions.

”Bisbee minerals were all over the world exhibited, but not in Bisbee,” states Carrie Gustavson, Director of the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum. ”We decided to bring them back and create a unique exhibition for our visitors to experience.” Completed in 2005, »Digging In« is the title of the 2,000 square feet national award-winning permanent exhibition that offers not only insights into the history of copper and how it was mined, but also its applications. The exhibition tells the story of those who once mined the ore.

When it came to lighting the exhibit, the museum hired expert lighting designer Frank A. Florentine, FIES, LC, a lighting designer who has received many awards. He decided to use fiber optic lighting from SCHOTT to illuminate the exhibit cases. ”It was essential to bring out the magic of each individual mineral. Crystals within the minerals reflect the points of light and the reflection changes as your viewing angle changes. Glass fiber optics from SCHOTT pinpoints these crystals, making it the ideal solution. They create magic with a drop of light, so to speak, making the minerals sparkle,” says Florentine.
Florentine used SCHOTT »SpectraNova« light sources with HID lamps, »Slim LightBars« and end fittings coupled to lighting harnesses with tails of equal lengths to create that essential »fire and pop« with the minerals. It is a layered approach to lighting design. The »LightBars« bathe the cases in ambient light and the end fittings provide key lights for the minerals and the descriptive labels. The »SpectraNova« light source is one of the brightest, yet smallest metal halide light sources available, and it is extremely quiet, making it ideal in the museum environment.

Another essential feature of fiber optics from SCHOTT is that the light source can be placed somewhere accessible. This benefits the museum because the security of each case would not be compromised to change a lamp, and one lamp performs multiple lighting functions resulting in a reduction of lamps, maintenance, and heat while increasing energy savings and utilizing long life lamps. Glass fiber optics from SCHOTT ensures a constant quality of light throughout the exhibit cases for the lifetime of the exhibition.
Left: Thanks to the many points of light, the SCHOTT »LightBar« system produces an enchanting sparkle with minerals, thus accentuating their beauty. (Photo: Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum) Right: Fiber optic components from SCHOTT – e.g. »Slim LightBars« and »SpectraNova« light sources – ensure exact and well-focused illumination of the exhibits. (Photo: SCHOTT/H.Fischer)