Baltimore Museum of Industry:

Crane Lighting

In 2016 the Baltimore Museum of Industry first approached Image Engineering about the upcoming restoration of their 1942 Whirley Crane. A three phase restoration that would first include cleaning, then painting and the final phase of illuminating the crane for all of Baltimore to see. 


The Whirly Crane was brought to the Museum of Industry in 1982 after the closing of the Bethlehem Steel and Ship Building Yard in Baltimore’s Sparrows Point. For years the Whirley Crane played an integral role in America’s WWII war effort building Liberty and Victory Ships.

When Image Engineering was approached the Baltimore Museum of Industry discussed how they wanted the Crane’s future restoration to shine brightly day and night as a testament to the Crane’s proud history. For this reason the Image team knew that the lighting installation had to be powerful, but understated. The lighting would be meant to help tell the Crane’s story and accentuate its classic industrial architecture, but not overshadow it.

For this reason our team of designers and engineers decided to go with a mainly ground based lighting wash. We wanted to minimize any mounting to the crane as not to disturb the recent restoration or artifact itself. By utilizing a mainly ground based wash and graze approach our team would also be able to use the structure itself to cast shadows creating a unique light layering effect.

Utilizing 3D scans provided by a museum partner the Image design team was able to provide a series of 3D renderings depicting a photorealistic representation of the final installation.

Planning & Fabrication

The Image Engineering integration and engineering teams worked hand-in-hand with the museum’s electrical contractor to plan an efficient and well thought-out installation plan. The Image team provided all construction documentation allowing the electrical contractor to focus solely on installation.

The Image team built the main pieces of the lighting deployment as modular sleds. Custom sleds were built to shroud all of the ground based lighting providing a clean look. The ground mounted sleds were painted in the same color and finish as the crane to blend into the overall structure. Each light was prewired into the sled prior to field deployment to expedite onsite installation. Custom brackets were also designed and fabricated to mount lights on surrounding buildings to provide adequate wash for the crane’s cab.

Finally, a weatherproof control cabinet including networking and lighting control devices was assembled.

Installation & Integration

Once the electrical installation was complete the Image Engineering integration team mobilized onsite to install the lighting sleds and perform the final system commissioning. (24) Color Kinetics ColorBlast Powercore RGB LED lighting fixtures were split into two (12) fixture runs to provide a lighting wash for the two sides of the crane and (10) fixtures utilized to wash the front and back of the crane. Custom sleds were built to shroud the lighting providing a clean look.  (4) Color Kinetics ColorReach Compact Powercore LED lighting fixtures were affixed to the museum and administrative building to provide a proper wash of the crane’s cab. Finally, (2) fixtures were attached to the crane’s cab to provide a wash of the boom.

Utilizing an Interactive Technologies CueServer 900 we were able to provide a simple and streamlined user experience. With a celestial clock, program scheduling and easy color changing control the museum has full control of the lighting system at their fingertips.


The Baltimore Museum of Industry has completed the restoration of their 1942 Whirley Crane returning it to is original glory. The Crane is now illuminated at night and can be seen from throughout Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. With full RGB control the Crane can be programmed for special events like Baltimore Oriole and Baltimore Ravens home games, major holidays and special museum events. Day and night the Crane stands proud for all to see.

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