Light up your life at the Surrey Museum

Hannah Gill

Brighten up a dull November day with trip to the Surrey Museum, where a new exhibit offers plenty of fascinating – and fun – ways to explore our relationship with light.

Lighting up Your Life, on display to Dec. 23, looks at light in every form, from the use of candle power and oil lanterns to flood lights and laser beams.

Interactive displays give kids and adults hands-on ways to discover more about how humans, and even animals, use light.

Ride an exercise bike to see how fast you have to pedal to power a light bulb, or arrange a set of prisms to turn a beam of white light into a multi-coloured rainbow, or spectrum.

Use tiny mirrors to bounce a red laser beam onto a Sphinx figurine – not as simple as it appears.

No exhibit about light would be complete without the electric light bulb, erroneously said to have been created by inventor Thomas Edison. Turns out, Edison invented the first cost effective, long-lived light bulb, merely improving a technology invented by Humphrey Davy in 1809.

The latest in light bulb technology is given its due, too. Compare LED technology with low-watt fluorescents, and gape in awe at the true size of street and traffic lights brought down to street level.

One of the original bridge lights from Vancouver’s Burrard Bridge is on display, as is a decorative street lamp from Chinatown, complete with a snarling dragon on the top.

The first public street to use gas lamps was Pall Mall in London in 1814. Two years later, they appeared in Baltimore. But it wasn’t until 1837 that Montreal unveiled its first gas street lamps.

By the end of the 19th Century, most major cities were outfitted with gas street lamps – just as electric lights were already becoming popular.

Lighting up Your Life also looks at the use of light in a cultural context – candles and lamps perform important roles in festivals such as Hanukkah and Diwali.

The Surrey Museum is located at 17710 56A Avenue, Surrey. It’s open Tuesdays to Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s closed Sundays, Mondays and statutory holidays. Admission fees are $5:50 adults, $4 seniors and students, $2.75 children and youth, and free for children under five.

For more information call 604-592-6956 or visit www.surrey.ca/heritage.

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