The New School Archives Digital Collections

Related people/organizations

Eun-Kyung Bae (designer)
Chou Lien (thesis advisor)
Thomas Thompson (thesis advisor)
Robert Prouse (thesis advisor)


November 1994


In the past, lighting design for children’s museums has had little concern with children’s biological and psychological visual perception. Most existing museums simply used fluorescent lighting for general illumination and incandescent track lighting for focusing exhibits. This has been the typical lighting design layout for children’s museums from the past to the present. Even though the number of museums has grown steadily since 1993, the lighting design for approximately two-hundered museums un the U.S. has only changed slightly.

Fortunately , in recent years, the children’s museums have shown interest in well designed lighting systems which considers the visual comfort and stimulation of a child’s visual perception. Many museums are beginning to research different lighting technologies and methods by employing lighting specialists, and some of the museums are now in the midst of lighting renovations. However, the renovations are still based on adult assumptions about what will be comfortable, attractive and fun for children. The goals of this thesis are 1.) to provide information to lighting designers regarding children’s biological and phycological visual perceptions and their visual behavior patterns, and 2.) to give the designers an idea of how they can apply this knowledge to children’s museums in order to create a unique, comfortable, and interesting atmosphere with light.

Children’s visual behavior patterns and perceptions are very complex. While researching, I discovered a vast number of experiment regarding these behaviors and perceptions. I then narrowed my research to the visual development and psychological aspects if children directly related to the visual activities that usually take place in museums. I also realized that the lighting of the children’s museums should be designed in relation to other factors of the museums, such as the exhibits themselves, space planning, and the color of the interior. IT is impossible to design lighting for a space without consideration of these aspects.

I selected four children’s museums for case studies and, for the purpose of this report, divided these museums into two groups: hands-on museums and science-technology centers. The first group was selected because the original idea of a children’s museum was for young children to be able to touch and hold the exhibits. The second group, the science-technology center, is a kind of educational science institution for older children which happens to have the characteristics of a children’s museum. I researched many children’s museums in the Tri-state area to find relevant museums for these case studies. I visited museums ranging from oldest to newest, from small scale to large, in order to combine various lighting experiences. I believe that the four museums I selected will present various lighting conditions as well as diverse lighting concepts for children’s museums.



Use Restrictions

There’s more! What you see on this site is only what is viewable online. Please visit our website to find out more about what’s in the archives.