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  • Europe
  • France
  • 2000-2009

Musée du Louvre

Salle des Etats, Showcase for “Mona Lisa”

Paris, France

2004

The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is a masterpiece among masterpieces, the pinnacle of the Italian art of the Renaissance, and the center of Louvre Museum. In 2005, following four years of exhibition in the Salles Rouges, the Mona Lisa was returned its original exhibition space in the large Salle des Etats (Room of the States). The Salle des Etats was restored and transformed to give Leonardo’s painting a display environment befitting its masterpiece status, offering peerless protection yet maximum transparency.

Exhibition design: Lorenzo Piqueras, Paris

The challenge

Realizing the display case for the Mona Lisa was a challenge in and of itself because of the great responsibility of protecting such an important emblem of our cultural heritage and the technical challenges of so doing. The exhibition case itself was unusually large. Its single door alone measured 2.2 x 3.5 meters. Security elements were of the highest order and conservation characteristics had to protect the precious poplar wood panel of the painting from sudden changes in relative humidity and from pollutants brought in by the approximately six million visitors that crowd in front of the masterpiece each year. Goppion was uniquely qualified to assemble a team with the advanced, specialized technical skills the project demanded.

The solution

We created an especially transparent yet virtually impermeable antiglare glass face composed of multiple, alternating layers of glass and PVB sheets. For security, the display case is made of thick steel and further protected by rear armour-plating made out of high-resistance steel. The painting’s support system allows the Museum staff to remove it quickly in the event of emergency. A compression system seals the perimeter at multiple points, achieving a higher-than-requested level of security and airtightness. To address the unique climate-control issues the project presented, we worked with the Polytechnic University of Milan, to design and build a complex, combined passive/active, system to both stabilize relative humidity and filter the air within the case. The system includes two completely independent and redundant units; if one fails the other takes over automatically and immediately.

Project data

Exhibition area: 450 m2; exhibition units: 1; dimensions: l = 220 cm; d = 60 cm; h = 460 cm