The Zuiderzee Museum in Enkhuizen brings stories of the people who once lived on the shores of the Zuiderzee to life. You can see, hear, feel, taste and smell everyday life round the Zuiderzee as it was before the Afsluitdijk (the great IJsselmeer Barrier Dam) turned the former inland sea into what we now know as the IJsselmeer, in 1932. The Zuiderzee Museum focuses on the history, current situation and future of the region. Themes such as water, crafts and communities occupy centre stage. These stories are visualised the Outdoor Museum with its historic buildings, and in the Indoor Museum through thematic exhibitions.

The Indoor Museum is the treasure house of the Zuiderzee; here the various collections are presented with a modern approach. Dive into a Sea of Stories and experience life on the former Zuiderzee in this interactive and completely revamped exhibition.

The exhibition Sea of Stories starts in the Ship’s Hall, which has 14 antique boats, the largest museum collection of boats in The Netherlands. Frank Hulsebosch of 50LUX wanted to make an audio-visual presentation through which you can imagine yourself on the Zuiderzee a century ago, when it was a turbulent open sea full of fish, salt water and raging waves. In order to make dynamic presentation they needed other fixtures then they would normally use in a museum. They were looking for DMX controlled fixtures with vibrant colors, as well as some with UV (to create dark and nightly atmospheres) and a zoom. Hardware partner Lichtpunt Theatertechniek gave advice and helped select the right fixtures.

Hulsebosch and his company, 50LUX, were introduced to Sea of Stories by Perspekt Studios, which was responsible for the design and construction of the exhibit. He explained why the decision was made to go beyond standard museum lighting and hang 50 COLORado 2 Solo IP65 fixtures as well as 15 COLORdash Par H12 IP units from truss structures that line both sides of the 40-meter-long hall.

Prior to the installation of the new color-mixing LED fixtures, the Ship’s Hall was lit only by ambient sunlight. Aside from providing a sharper more consistent light, the new fixtures are also used to enhance the storytelling aspect of the exhibit.

“The different light scenes are part of a show with sound, light, video and special effects,” said Hulsebosch. “Since the hall represents life at sea, we used our COLORados and COLORdashes to create a lot of rich shades of blue and green for ambience. Then, we’d go to white light for times when the ships were on display in between the theatrical scenes.

“We also used different angles and uplighting the dramatic and atmosphere scenes to create shadows,” continued Hulsebosch. “In the more static scenes, where the ships are on display in a more traditional exhibition-like way, we focused on visibility and avoid dark spots as much as possible.”

Installing the fixtures was challenging, the fixtures are placed 8 meters above the floor in a hall full of antique ships. There was no space for mechanical equipment and everything had to go up using a ladder and without touching or damaging the ships. Making sure the museum felt immersive, while still allowing the lighting to be used in an exhibition-style fashion was another design challenge we tackled, but selecting the RGBWAUV COLORdash Par H12 IP fixtures allowed great versatility and programming possibilities that allowed for both scenarios.

The Zuiderzeemuseum’s Ship’s Hall succeeds in bringing to life the Zuiderzee as it was over century ago, when it was a turbulent open sea full of fish, salt water and raging waves. Using carefully selected lighting fixtures and taking care to highlight and not overpower the collection of antique ships, visitors are transported to a world of rich shades of blue and green, mimicking the life at sea. Additionally, this forward-thinking project includes all LED fixtures to minimise power consumption and comply with local laws for the foreseeable future.