Into the Lantern Exhibit Addition

Bath, Maine

“Simply put, if you have imagined what it might be like to experience serene and stormy scenes from atop a lighthouse – all the while basking in the warm glow of a breathtaking Fresnel lens, then the Maine Maritime Museum’s Into the Lantern exhibit is for YOU!  The recreated majesty of Cape Elizabeth’s lantern is literally stunning. This one-of-a-kind experience will astound the visitor with its exquisite beauty, detail and ability to transport admirers back in time when lighthouse keepers kept a vigilant eye seaward as they helped protect the mariner from the perils of the sea. If you desire one lighthouse experience that will prove to be both amazing and memorable, then Into the Lantern is a must-see!” – Bob Trapani, Executive Director, American Lighthouse Foundation

In 2015, the Coast Guard gifted the second order Fresnel Lens from the Cape Elizabeth light tower to the Maine Maritime Museum (MMM).  Barba + Wheelock were commissioned to design a new exhibit gallery for the lens, an addition to their iconic Maritime History Building, c. 1987.  Because of the highly sensitive preservation needs of the historic Fresnel Lens, the addition is a “black box” theater.  The addition is sited to be embedded in a developed courtyard inside the MMM complex.

The building, in essence, is designed around the exhibit and creates an immersion experience for the public.  While there are many lens displays in various institutions throughout the U.S., this is the first gallery of its type known where the lens is celebrated, interpreted, and set in an exhibit that simulates the visitor experience of standing on the lantern tower deck.  Sound, sights, smells, and tactile references are all part of the design. The curator and architects worked closely together to create this experience with a parabolic screen as a key element of the design.

Not only designed around the exhibit, the addition fits securely within the tight parameters of the existing building and is clad in durable slate siding and copper roofing.

Completion
: 2017

Special Features: 
A black box theater designed for a singular exhibit.

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