How To Choose The Right Museum Display Cabinets

How To Choose The Right Museum Display Cabinets

The type of cabinets used to display your artworks is paramount not only for the overall aesthetic of your exhibition, but also for the security and safety of the artefacts themselves.

A display cabinet should enhance your exhibition by presenting your precious objects in their best light while not detracting from their unique look and feel. The cabinets themselves are also focal points, drawing the viewer’s attention to the piece within. So it’s important to achieve an optimal balance of form and function for each cabinet, so the design and aesthetic is enhanced while offering security and protection at the same time.

There are a range of considerations to assess when choosing the right museum display cabinets for your exhibition. Let’s review some of the top ones.

What materials should you use?

Some items are sensitive to light, others might be made of a particularly delicate material such as paper. Metals such as stainless steel, powder coated steel, or aluminium is the preferred material for many display cases and storage shelving because they are strong, non-flammable, and don’t emit harmful vapours. 

Wood, and composites of wood such as chipboard or particle board emit vapours such as acetic acid and peroxides, so if you’re after a wooden-look, make sure you use MDF or plywood which have a higher grade of adhesive and are therefore more stable. 

Glass is scratch-resistant, gas-impermeable and can be coated with UV filters that protect your objects. However, it is heavy and therefore makes cabinets very difficult to move around. It also is more susceptible to temperature changes and can build condensation inside the glass, causing your organic materials to become damp. 

Many plastics also produce harmful gasses over time that can damage certain materials. Plastics such as PVC, cellulose acetate, or rubber should not be used at all. However, plastics such as Plexiglass or acrylic are a good choice both for preventing visitors from touching objects on display and also protecting them from dust and airborne pollutants.

Acrylic is a great cost-effective option with the added benefit of being safer due to the fact that it will not smash or shatter. It is light and therefore easy to relocate, and also features the best optical clarity with crystal clear properties whilst blocking ultraviolet light, making it perfect for protecting objects that are sensitive to UV light. 

What lighting is best?

LED lighting offers substantial benefits when compared to more traditional lighting such as Halogen. Nowadays LED lighting is the ‘gold standard’ for lighting display cases, due to a number of benefits including – 

  • Long operational lifetime
  • Better energy efficiency
  • Close to no UV emissions
  • Flexible design features
  • Operational in cold or hot temperatures

Which display case type should you use?

The size and shape of the items you want to display, along with the look, feel, and flow of your exhibit will inform the type of display best used for each object. 

Some options include – 

  • Table Top Museum display   
  • Wall display cabinet 
  • Freestanding display case
  • Plinth with case on top
  • Modular display case  
  • Drawer cabinet

A good case should effectively highlight the piece without distracting from it. It should also not distract from the overall design of the exhibition or gallery, whether you’re going for a simple white aesthetic or a design that compliments the time period or style of the exhibition. 

At POD Services, we fabricate a flexible range of display solutions to maximise the visual impact of your exhibition while keeping the focus on the objects displayed. We’re proud to be the authorised Australian distributor of the Frank Showcase system from Germany. 

A highly customisable system manufactured with state-of-the-art precision, the Frank Showcase system is perfect for permanent, temporary or travelling exhibits. 

Benefits include – 

  • Completely demountable
  • Easy to move and customise
  • Museum-quality materials
  • Shatterproof acrylic
  • Airtight and emission-free
  • Economical and affordable
  • Offers higher clarity than glass
  • Range of shapes and sizes available

Read more about the Frank Showcase System here

Where to get more information

POD Services are Australia’s go-to exhibit design, fabrication and installation experts, with 15 years’ experience facilitating successful exhibition displays for a range of museums and galleries.

From the whole gallery to a single picture hang, our team can develop a creative solution while keeping the integrity of your collection at the forefront of our every decision. We liaise with designers, curators, conservators, directors, private collectors, and architects to ensure an optimal result, every time.

Whether you’re looking for individual display components or a complete exhibit design, build, and installation, we can help. Contact us on 03 9588 0436 to discuss your vision. We’re looking forward to helping you bring it to life.

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