MSI Transportation Gallery

The Transportation Gallery at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry is a world-renowned collection of exhibits showcasing the history and innovation of transportation in America. Exhibits include a scaled model of the Wright Brothers 1903 flyer, a United Airlines 727, various military aircraft, a diesel locomotive and “The Great Train Story”, a model of the train evolution between Chicago Illinois and Seattle Washington. The gallery was originally lit with incandescent track fixtures with a limited ability to tune the color temperature and a high complexity of maintenance.


In July, ILC and Avraham Mor of Lightswitch Architectural partnered together to bring new life to the exhibit and add additional beauty to the lighting system. One of the biggest problems with the incandescent system was the limited ability to change the look of The Great Train story based on dimming. Utilizing over 200 Ketra S38 LED fixtures the galleries lighting was reborn under a wide color gamut and color rendering index (CRI) of 97. Now the Great Train Story could be modified to change the lighting between the downtown city streets of Chicago, the Rocky Mountain Pass and the city of Seattle. Avi Mor commented “you now have a realistic transition of light across this vast model and get a better perspective of the sunrise and sunset of each scene”. Additionally, ILC installed several LED ColorSource Fixtures by Electronic Theater Controls for lighting of the larger exhibits in the gallery.


Maintenance was another driving factor in this retrofit. With existing incandescent lamps, they had to be routinely changed which impacted the focus of the design as well as subtile color temperature changes. With the Ketra and ETC products, the gallery goes virtually maintenance free and according to Mor: “maintains the integrity of the design regardless of the wear on the lighting system”.

ILC began the project working with the Museum of Science and Industry to improve the overall electrical and data service in the gallery. The Ketra lamps were installed with minimal need for infrastructure changes and downtime to the exhibits. ILC also installed a CueServer2 from Interactive Technologies that communicates with the building show control system to trigger specific looks throughout the day.


Matt Pearlman, Account Executive at ILC commented, that at 18 watts per fixture the power footprint of the gallery has been significantly reduced while allowing the lighting system to run maintenance free for many years to come.

For more information about architectural lighting systems integration by ILC please contact or your account executive.

For more information about museum lighting, please attend the LED Specifiers Summit Midwest on November 15th where Avraham Mor will be speaking on the topic. More information at

*Photo Credits: Joby Benoit