mappa mundi

"We were approached by the architects William Whitfield who were designing the new Chained Library + Mappa Chamber at Hereford Cathedral, and asked if we would light the oldest map in the world. My initial thoughts were," yes please, what an honour and it can't be that difficult to light a map", putting aside the three essential lighting conservation requirements for a moment. Having been awarded the project I soon discovered that my first two initial thoughts were totally accurate but this project certainly confirmed my suspicions that I must always be on an orange light for any job that, at the out set, appears to be simple. If it were that easy then why would anyone ask us to light it in the first place?

I soon discovered that the Mappa Mundi was to be housed in an hermetically sealed, controlled environment and protected by armour plated glass and a state of the art alarm system. It was also intended for the Mappa to be viewed from a distance by the more casual visitors to the chamber and also for close inspection by those who I nicknamed the Mappa Boffins. To add to the challenge the Mappa Mundi is not a flat two dimensional map as it was created on a vellum.

After several mock ups, sleepless nights and hours of careful consideration the result was achieved by installing a linear fibre optic wash uplight in a specially made lighting trough at the bottom of the map and one MR11 low voltage spotlight mounted at high level on the ceiling just to the front of the display. This fitting was controlled by a dimmer from which we could set the level of light and reduce the dramatic shadowing that the fibre optic uplight created."


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