Technology puts the spotlight on modern masterpieces at the Museum Barberini, Germany

Contemporary AV and lighting technology is delicately interwoven with iconic artworks to create an engaging experience to captivate all ages at the Museum Barberini, Germany.

Sitting in the Old Market Square in Potsdam, on the banks of the Havel River, the site of Germany’s newest museum  was  completely  rebuilt after  the  renowned  Barberini Palace  was  destroyed  by  an  air  raid  during WW2. In 2005, the city resolved to revitalise the square  and  reinstate  the  building’s  status  as  a cultural  landmark  and  hub  for  the  arts  with  a new museum, recreating its Roman style under the guidance of architects Hilmer & Sattler und Albrecht, with 21st century technology on hand to bring the stories behind artworks inside to life.

baroque-styled exterior of entrance to museum barberini featuring statue

Beyond  the  baroque  facade  and  lines  of the  Museum  Barberini  attendees  can  discover celebrated  works  from  Hopper,  Monet  and Rothko,  a  nod  to  the  palace’s  past  life  –  yet now  large-scale  4K  technology,  HD  spotlights and digital array column loudspeakers heightens the  museum-going  experience.  “Inside it was imperative the building met the highest standard to match its exterior.  Therefore  we  strived  for perfection  indoors  and  placed  great  emphasis on  high-quality  interior  design  and  media technology,”  explains  Christian  Schroeder,  key account manager and project leader at ASC Berlin.

The integrator was selected to commission and execute  the  project  following  an  open  tender process  instigated  by  the  builder  and  technical designer and senior events technician Mauricio Salas Zurita in February 2016. “We were able to compete  against  some  well-known  companies in  the  AV  sphere  because  of  our  expertise  in the  museum  and  exhibition  space.”  Their brief outlined the need to equip the auditorium with media and lighting technology suitable for varied events, and the media infrastructure to allow staff to safely connect displays to different points in the building on the network – all of which had to meet the standards of the building’s patron.

“It was very important to Hasso Plattner, the former  SAP  founder  and  the  museum  founder, to  create  a  digital  museum  that  is  modern, innovative and interactive,” adds Schroeder. This is  achieved  by  bringing  an  element  of  theatre into the museum space, with an iPad placed on a steele in the auditorium – a didactic tool targeted at digital natives allowing them to engage further with the artwork on the wall by discovering its background  information  and  interpretations. What the user accesses on the iPad can then be seen on the large 4K LED ‘smart’ wall (with a pixel pitch of 1.2mm) in the room. The screen can also serve as a flexible backdrop to different events when hired privately. “Compared to other international museums, we feel the LED wall is particularly special in its cinema quality and how well received it is by visitors of all generations,” says Schroeder.

“Compared to other international museums, we feel the LED wall is particularly special in its cinema quality and how well received it is by visitors of all generations.”

A coolux media server is available to meet the AV requirements  of  any  events  taking  place  at the  museum,  as  well  as  ensuring  content  for displays  is  fed  to  each  one  via  a  decentralised media player.

An Extron XTP II cross-point matrix is integrated into the overall system architecture for signal distribution, enabling the high-resolution audio and video signals to be transmitted within the museum area.  Additional remote mobile displays across other floors are fed audio and video content via fibre optic cables and network nodes on the network infrastructure integrated by ASC.

Visitors  can  also  engage  with  the  museum as  they  explore  its  open  6-feet  high  rooms through their  own  or  a  rented  device,  with an  award-winning  Barberini  Digital  app  on offer encompassing  everything  from  a  guide to  navigating  the  museum’s  exhibitions  to information  about  its  history.  “Everyone  gets a  taste  for  the  visit  to  the  museum  and  can learn  more  on  the  spot  –  sometimes  content is  intentionally  cross-generational,  sometimes designed  for  the  elderly,”  says  Schroeder.

“Multimedia  solutions  here  designed  to  get visitors  to  interact  with  and  learn  more  about the art  here,  and  presenting  them  via  social media extends the circle even more to younger generations.”

What started as a plan for a space showcasing collections  and  temporary  exhibitions  highly regarded in the international sphere, evolved into a cultural meeting place equipped for concerts, conferences, symposia, readings and roundtables during  discussions  with  the  client,  planner and  ASC.  “For  this  reason  the  acoustics  in  the auditorium  were  optimised,”  recalls  Schroeder. For sound reinforcement ASC opted for VIDA L active column speakers from Kling & Freitag, each of which was positioned discreteely behind covers to the right and left of the videowall. To ensure ease of operation by staff, the central audio processor offers pre-programmed settings for voice and sound reproduction – activated via either a Crestron touch panel or a mobile digital audio mixing console.  Sennheiser 5000 Series wireless microphones are additionally available when required for events.

Equipped for multilingual communication, the integrator deployed an Audipack interpreter booth and Sennheiser interpreter technology to simplify interaction between museum staff and users. “We  also  decided  that  lighting  control would  be  supplemented  by  a  DMX  network across all three floors. This makes it possible to use light projectors and create colour-dynamic installations flexibly on the busbars in the exhibition rooms,” says Schroeder.

modern artworks on display in exhibition at museum barberini, germany

Lighting  is  an  integral  part  of  museum experience  –  an  essential  tool  used  not  just to  illuminate  exhibited  works,  but  also  open up  different  design  opportunities  through changing colours whilst meeting the museum’s strict  environmental  criteria.  In  the  palace’s auditorium, eight ETC Source Four LED Studio HD  spotlights  with  15  to  30-degree  zoom tubes  used,  as  well  as  four  ColorSource  PAR spotlights,  connected  to  EUTRAC  DataTrack busbars for different configurations – managed via  a  ColorSource20  light control.  During  exhibitions the  museum’s  technician  is able  to  activate  various  light scenes from the Crestron touch panel,  with  the  DMX  lighting desk  on  offer  for  live  events. A  small  ETC  Irideon  FPZ architectural  lighting  system (used in the EURTRAC busbars) was  deployed  by  ASC  in  the exhibition area – chosen for its ability  to  illuminate  artworks in  a  selective,  accentuated manner  thanks  to  its  high colour rendering index (> 90). As  17  rooms  of  the  museum are  air  conditioned  to  remain a  constant  20°C,  lighting  is specifically  programmed  to ensure  that  it  does  not  affect the room temperature.

Purposefully unpretentious by design, ASC handpicked discreet technologies that would complement the interior design – incorporating high-rise staircases of bronze, marble and Jurassic limestone and oak flooring – and architecture of the 2,200m 2 exhibition space to allow the art itself to be the focus. Therefore glare-free LED light ceilings were specified and special  techniques  were  put  in  place  to  ensure the  LED  wall  did  not  detract  too  much  from the artworks surrounding it. “In the auditorium we  were  encouraged  to  deploy  the  technology as  inconspicuously  as  possible  and  to  give  it a  subtle  presence,”  explains  Schroeder.  “For example, we integrated the UHD LED wall into an understated frame made of mineral material with a front fabric gauze and integrated all the devices (loudspeakers, transmitters, antennas, etc.) into the architecture discreetly.” Schroeder notes that Leyard technology was chosen for the presentation methods it offered, usability and ability to withstand heavy usage.

The wall presented other logistical challenges for ASC’s 10-person team working on the project. “Getting all the technology to work in the videowall was a real challenge because it had to be small and compact,” comments Schroeder. He adds: “The suspension of the LED wall itself to the  space  supports  has  also  caused  some  static problems  which  had  to  be  solved.  The wall (including cladding and all the additional fixtures) weighed 1.5 tonnes in total.”  For  this  reason careful  consideration  had  to  be  given  to  the maintenance-friendly  suspension  and  cladding for the wall. “This cost us most of our time, but eventually we feel we solved this very well.”

The museum’s opening was staged by ASC and took place on 21 January, 2017, attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel, Bill Gates and a host of names from the political and cultural world. ASC are still on hand as a service provider for any additional maintenance or updates.

The  drop  in  museum  attendance  may  be  a trend  being  felt  in  Germany  and  beyond  in Europe’s cultural hotspots, yet Museum Barberini is already seeing a tangible return on investment from the meticulous planning that has gone into the  three-year  rebuild.  “The  figures  speak  for themselves,  and  so  far  numbers  show  no  sign of  dropping  off,”  says  Schroeder. “Already in March, one month after the exhibition opening with special exhibitions, the museum extended the opening hours and celebrated the end of the opening exhibition on 28 May by announcing over 320,000 visitors. This kind of visitor record in four months makes the Barberini Museum a milestone in the museum landscape.”




Audipack interpreter booth

Kling & Freitag VIDA L column loudspeakers

Sennheiser 5000 Series wireless microphone system and SL Intepreter console

Yamaha QL 1 digital mixing console and BluRay player


Christie Spyder X20 video processor, Coolux Compact Player and Pandoras Box Widget Designer, Quad Player & PK1 hardware compact station

Cisco TelePresence Codec C40

Crestron AV3 control system and touch panels

Extron XTP II CrossPoint matrix switcher

Leyard TWA 4K LED (1.2mm pitch) videowall

Panasonic HD pan-tilt cameras

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