Transforming the Central Court from Floor to Ceiling

1:55 pm

The Spencer Museum’s Central Court has been the latest site of big changes. New floors, ceilings, and lighting are just a few of the numerous renovations to the Museum’s premiere exhibition space. Improvements have made the space more functional and accessible while adding aesthetic enhancements, addressing not only the needs of the Museum’s collection, but also the needs of audience members and visiting performers.

This week marked the installation of new wood floors to the Central Court. Exhibition Designer Richard Klocke said white oak wood was used because it is sturdy, ensuring that the floors will stand up to the high traffic the Central Court receives. A subfloor beneath the oak makes the floor springy, providing an ideal surface for dance performances.

“These floors are a significant upgrade for dancers collaborating with the Spencer. You can really feel the difference,” Director of Internal Operations Jennifer Talbott said.

The floors are one of several changes that improve the Central Court’s capacity as a space for presentations and performances. Acoustical ceiling tiles will dampen echoes so that sound broadcast in the Central Court will sound clearer than ever before. Additionally, a new audio looping system will connect to hearing aids, allowing guests with impaired hearing to tune into artist talks, visiting speakers, and music. The implementation of this system makes the Spencer a leader for accessibility among Lawrence institutions.

Another change will show visitors the Central Court in a new light—literally. A faux skylight system—comprised of hundreds of small LED lights—is capable of mimicking natural light in all its variations. Klocke called the system “incredibly sophisticated.”

“There’s a lot of potential here. We can program the system to align with the daily shifts in the sun’s light, or we can tailor it to compliment the present exhibition,” Klocke said.

Natural light will also stream into the Central Court through new windows on both the east and west sides of the building.

Talbott said she and other staff were excited by the new potential of the Central Court.

“We had to strip the Central Court down so thoroughly; it was a blank canvas,” she said. “That could have been a big challenge, but instead we took advantage of it. The space has been completely transformed.”