Science Museum - Large Hadron Collider

Precision Lighting’s Pico 1 Surface LED spotlights are being used to illuminate displays at ‘Collider’, the new, immersive exhibition at London’s Science Museum. It gives a behind-the-scenes look at the CERN particle physics laboratory in Geneva, home of the Large Hadron Collider. The exhibition blends theatre, video and sound art to tell the story of ‘the world’s greatest experiment’. It runs until May 2014 when it will go on international tour, complete with lighting.

Visitors explore areas including facsimiles of CERN’s Control Room and a huge underground detector cavern, encountering ‘virtual’ scientists and engineers, snooping around a researcher’s workbench, and examining genuine artefacts from CERN. The Science Museum developed the £1 million exhibition with an award-winning creative team including architect Nissen Richards Studio, playwright Michael Wynne and video artist Finn Ross. The lighting design by London-based Studio ZNA plays a crucial part in creating the atmosphere of the huge underground complex says Alison Boyle, the Science Museum’s curator of modern physics.

In an attempt to recreate the atmosphere of the LHC tunnel itself, the lighting has been carefully designed to provide a high contrast environment. ‘It was an interesting challenge to create something atmospheric, a world that was unfamiliar to our visitors, while having to adhere to the safety, legibility and aesthetic requirements that you have in a museum. It is a careful balance,’ says Boyle. ‘The light levels are low to create the right atmosphere but allow visitors to see all the content properly.’

A total of 81 Precision Pico spotlights have been used in display cases. Machined from aerospace-grade 6063-T6 aluminium, they combine a high-tech aesthetic with accurate focusing, accomplished on-site without the need for tools.

All the lighting will travel with the exhibition when it goes on tour from May 2014 until the end of 2016. ‘Everything is designed to be packed up and taken somewhere else,’ says Boyle. ‘It’s really important to replicate the show as closely as we can. We are lucky that we are underground in the Science Museum but that might not be the case everywhere else and the lighting has to do the job of convincing you that you are 175m below ground.’ Hughes points out that ‘the surface-mounted Pico will be easy to de-install and then plug-and-play at the next venue. Re-installing will be straightforward.’


"Pico is nicely engineered so we did not want to hide them away in the show cases as we usually would. The punch and clarity of the LEDs on metal objects and graphics was very good and ideal for the inset wall cases in particular, where they are part of a layered visual field. The surface-mounted Pico will be easy to un-install and then plug-and-play at the next venue." Zerlina Hughes, Founder and Creative Director of Studio ZNA

Lighting Designer

Studio ZNA


London, United Kingdom