Why bespoke display cases are important in museums

Why bespoke display cases are important in museums

© Max Touhey – NYPL

Museums play a key role in the preservation and dissemination of culture and knowledge. They can display works of art, documents, photographs, historical artifacts or even plants and trees. Although there are fully virtual exhibition spaces today, the primary functions of traditional museums are the conservation and protection of objects, which are invaluable due to their historical significance or market value. From simple ‘do not touch’ signs to tapes, security guards or glass shields, every object receives a type of protection that suits its needs. These types of protection, in turn, must consider both the safety of the object, while allowing its appreciation and preservation, creating a controlled environment for the object on display that preserves it indefinitely.

Goppion is a company that designs and manufactures display cases in order to provide the most appropriate solutions for the proper conservation and protection of objects. Its portfolio includes some of the world’s most famous artistic and cultural treasures, including the Mona Lisa, the Crown Jewels of England and the Dead Sea Scrolls. The company recently worked on the renovation of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, part of the New York Public Library, where unique display cases have been developed for exclusive documents and historical objects of significant importance to the country.

© Max Touhey - NYPL
© Max Touhey – NYPL

Among the many changes included in the renovation – developed by Dutch architecture firm Mecanoo and New York-based Beyer Belle Belle – is a large new permanent exhibition, intended to show the collection’s most important literary and historical pieces. of the library, titled TREASURES. Priceless artifacts such as the Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson himself, George Washington’s handwritten farewell address, and a handwritten copy of the Bill of Rights, among many others, are displayed here. Goppion designed, produced and installed 21 conservation display cases especially for this exhibition. Four of them are huge wall showcases, for which a special rigging plan has been developed to carefully move the large glass doors around the building using special tools and cranes. All are equipped with special LED lighting systems as well as a forced air circulation system to improve passive humidity control.

Large tilt and slide windows with double doors (4.5 m wide), opening simultaneously on both sides, occupy the center of the gallery. The engineering is bespoke and extremely precise due to the dimensions of the enclosures and the difficult opening system. Goppion has developed patented solutions to solve the various technical challenges inherent in this type of product. For example, the glass lids of display cases, which are large flat plates, tend to warp downward, often making it difficult to open display cases. In order to improve this, the company has developed a tensioner for the top, based on the concept of the sliding stay. Another example is the solution created to replace the hygroscopic material (silica gel that absorbs humidity), through a type of drawer that is placed under the bridge and in contact with the display area, improving the efficiency of the material and avoiding risks for objects. Finally, in the case of showcases with separate air-conditioned chambers, the innovative solution designed by Goppion consists of a device placed on the edge of the showcase that generates directional or laminar air flows with specific characteristics, projecting the air in the direction desired direction.

© Max Touhey - NYPL
© Max Touhey – NYPL

Due to the demanding requirements of these types of projects, Goppion develops each display case exclusively for the current project, studying the unique conservation and security requirements of each object, as well as the lighting needs according to the space. Plus, it carefully details how to install and maintain each display case. Extreme caution is taken to ensure that each box is as simple as possible, with no visible fittings or connectors that could distract attention from the object on display.

Pure+Applied was the architectural studio in charge of designing the TREASURES exhibit, in the New York Public Library’s Polonsky exhibit. According to them, “Goppion’s work fulfilled our ambition to simultaneously harmonize with the historic gallery and introduce a certain level of dynamism to the visitor’s experience, achieving displays that not only ‘fit’ into the space, but also expand its possibilities. Showcase interiors allow flexibility for future rotations, giving the exhibits team the ability to redesign topics and displays and make changes with ease. In their experience, “Goppion’s commitment to working closely with its clients and design teams, and maintaining the highest standards while engaging in flexible, creative and agile thinking throughout of the design process, adapted them perfectly to the needs of this project. In planning a permanent treasure exhibit that would be on view for 75 years, Goppion offered a range of personalized possibilities that would serve visitors while standing the test of time.

© Max Touhey - NYPL
© Max Touhey – NYPL



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