Display Lighting upgrade

Location: Bloomsbury, London

Duration: 8 weeks

Scope of project

AWL was first appointed by University College London in to install new high-level and emergency lighting within UCL’s Rockefeller Building. The historic Grant Museum of Zoology, founded in 1828 and the only remaining university zoological museum in London, relocated into this building and AWL was again appointed as principal contractor by UCL to help design and install display lighting to the exhibition cabinets housing some 68,000 specimens.

This complicated project required us to employ a specialist access company as the works were predominately six meters above ground. Areas of the building are Grade 2 listed and called for a sympathetic installation due to the ornate detail of the ceiling cornices and intricate building fabric finishes.

Good communication was essential and workshop meetings were held with the museum manager, where concerns of the museum team were openly discussed. Following a comprehensive risk assessment and the special consideration given to the building fabric, the works proceeded. They involved the intricate and careful removal and storage of the artefacts by the museum team in a phased process to allow for new display LED lighting to be installed, after which the artefacts were reinstated.  AWL appointed specialist carpentry and scaffolding companies to allow for the delicate work of installing cables and LED light fittings through display cabinets which, in some cases, were hundreds of years old.

At every stage of the works, the museum team were involved to ensure that we met their expectations; and the considerable task of routing mains cables through these cabinets took great skill and expert workmanship

The museum opened within six weeks from the start of the project with great media attention. The Grant Museum was delighted with the new lighting, which significantly improved the visitor experience.


Working with priceless artefacts presented its own challenges as the removal and re-instatement was a difficult process even before the lighting upgrades began. The routing of the cables through the display cabinets took careful consideration as they needed to be hidden from public view.


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