When the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., developed its new “Moving Beyond Earth” exhibit, the museum turned to Cree Lighting LED luminaires to light the way. The LED lights replace high intensity discharge work lights in the area where the exhibit was built, offering the high lumen output and efficacy required to work in the gallery.

The “Moving Beyond Earth” exhibit has 20-foot high ceilings and 5,000 square feet of space. Stable temperature and humidity levels are required to protect the significant number of historical artifacts featured in the exhibit. One advantage of the LED lights is that they weigh less than other fixtures the museum considered, helping to reduce strain on the high ceilings.

The work lights are on for roughly eight hours per day to allow museum staff to clean the gallery and perform other maintenance during non-exhibit hours. Replacing the antiquated mercury-vapor work lights with Cree LR24s can reduce maintenance costs and save energy. The LR24s are designed to produce little heat, saving on air conditioning needs and related costs, and emit virtually no ultraviolet rays, which can help protect the priceless objects featured in the exhibit. The Cree LR24 luminaires underwent extensive life cycle cost business-case analysis, which demonstrated an estimated 80 percent energy savings over the mercury vapor fixtures. Other evaluation criteria included maintenance costs, thermal/HVAC impact and ultraviolet emissions.

“The Air and Space Museum installation shows the versatility of our lighting products as well as the cost and environmental benefits associated with LEDs,” said Gary Trott, Cree vice president of market development. “And it's a natural fit for American innovation to be behind the scenes of an exhibit that proudly displays American history.”

The “Moving Beyond Earth” exhibition explores the achievements and challenges of human spaceflight in the United States during the space shuttle and space station era through artifacts, immersive experiences and interactive computer stations. The exhibit includes a 12-foot tall space shuttle model, parts of the Hubble Space Telescope and a model of the Ares launch vehicle.