Lighting the 'About Time: Fashion and Duration' exhibit

May 10, 2023
Designed to resemble enormous clock faces, two adjacent galleries display the history of fashion with both a linear and disruptor narrative.

“The whole concept of the fashion timeline and the way the story was told with lighting was a perfect match,” explained a juror for the 2022 AL awards citation to Tillotson Design Associates for the lighting of About Time: Fashion and Duration, the dynamic exhibit presented by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Tillotson Design Associates, recognized for creatively illuminating large-scale workplace lighting projects such as Comcast Innovation and Technology Center, Bloomberg European Headquarters, and The Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center, turned a different set of its creative sights to the 9,800-sq.-ft. exhibit at The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibition About Time: Fashion and Duration ran for over three months through early 2021, commemorating the last 150 years of fashion.

For About Time, Suzan Tillotson and her team used fixtures from Q-Tran, Ecosense, and Flos as their illuminated paint-like brushes. They worked with stage and exhibit designer Es Devlin as lighting artists to interpret the beauty of vintage and contemporary apparel displayed on mannequins and forms by adding dimension to the silhouettes, fabrics, and accessories shown in two galleries.

A swinging pendulum in the center of the first gallery space was inconspicuously illuminated from above with small framing projectors, keeping time with the ticking audio in the background as part of the “time” theme. Discreet surface-mounted accent lights highlighted each exhibition piece from above. In the second gallery, a low-profile recessed track system with shielded point sources allowed viewers to feel the presence of the infinite reflections surrounding them. 

This article appeared in the September 2022 issue of Architectural SSL magazine.

About the Author

Vilma Barr

Vilma Barr is a contributing editor to U.S. and international professional journals and trade periodicals published in the U.S. and internationally in the fields of lighting and the built environment. She has served as author, co-author, and editor of design and business books.

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