On March 20th the Eastern Wing of the Museum of the Army is reopening its doors in Paris. The objects shown to the public are being exhibited in glass cabinets made in Italy by the Goppion Laboratorio Museotecnico. After four years of work, the 68 million ATHENA museum renewal project is nearing completion.
The Italians behind the scenes of the ATHENA project are the technicians and the developers of the Goppion Laboratorio museotecnico. They are a task-force dedicated to museum exhibit systems with headquarters in Milan, European design capital, and they have a worldwide clientele of the utmost regard and importance. Among these special customers there is France’s “First Lady”. In her residence on the Rive Droite, between the Seine and the Rue de Rivoli, at the Louvre, the Mona Lisa is indeed protected by a maximum security Goppion glass cabinet. Following on from the Mona Lisa, it is now time to house the troops of France, beneath the golden dome of the Hôtel National des Invalides.
On the occasion of the March 20th inauguration of the Musée de l'Armée, it is time to celebrate the armed forces, men and women who have played pivotal roles in historical events from the 17th Century to the Second Empire. After four years of restoration, the exhibition rooms of those periods are being reopened. The weapons, the uniforms and the military standards previously exhibited are today displayed in special cabinets built made-to-measure in Italy, created by Goppion with a considerable deployment of both means as well as personnel.
A long, enthralling voyage through relics recalling past events, a voyage that makes full use of modern techniques to preserve objects and works from the wear and tear of time. The Battle of Borodino, painted in 1839 by Jean-Charles Langlois, shows itself off to the full beneath a Goppion seven metre pane of glass possessing high performance in protective preservation terms. In this way, the canvas will maintain its colours unchanged as well as the contours of one of the most dramatic moments in the Napoleonic Wars. In another room, still unstoppable after all those centuries passed, the French infantry is reproduced under glass and comes to life in spaces that are amplified by mirrors which were designed to produce the sensation of movement.
Twenty-five specialised assemblers from the Laboratorio have worked on the installation of more than 200 glass cabinets which comprises the entire exhibiting apparatus of the Eastern Wing of the museum, dedicated to permanent exhibitions. By means of mechanical, structural, electrical, electronic and climate engineering the Goppion Laboratorio has been able to translate into form and practice the indications provided by the museum itself and by the architectural firm which created the project. Goppion was also awarded the opportunity to supply the covering/panelling and the finish of the horizontal and vertical structures of the more than 2,000 square metres of exhibition space that contained within the area being restructured.
Drawing upon all the experience gained throughout more than fifty years of activity in the international museum field, the Laboratorio has singled out the best materials and the most appropriate technologies in order to be able to respond to the technical requisites and to guarantee the expected performance levels. The strictest quality control processes have been the subject of the attention of Brigade General, Robert Bresse. The high-ranking Officer, Director of the Army Museum in Paris, honoured Alessandro Goppion with his presence at the Laboratorio, personally bearing witness to the high production standards of the company and its co-makers.
For the Goppion Laboratorio museotecnico, the collaboration with the Musée de l'Armée marks a fundamental step in the company’s activities in terms of broadening prospects and in our ability to contribute on any particular project: commissions which are nowadays large-scale projects as in the case of the new Museum of Fine Arts by Norman Foster in Boston. In France, out of all the work carried out over the last few years and those that are now nearing completion, the following stand out: the Musée International de la Parfumerie in Grasse, the Familistère by Jean Baptiste Godin in Guise and the Lille Métropole Modern Art Museum in Villeneuve d'Ascq. At the Louvre, the Section des Antiquitées Orientales (2003), la Salle des Etats, the Mona Lisa (2005) and, lastly, the Galerie de la Venus de Milo and Melpomene which will be unveiled in Spring.
For the creation of the finish applied to the interiors of the museum and for the construction of more than 200 glass cabinets located throughout the 2,000 square metre area of the second floor of the Eastern Wing of the Musée de l'Armée, 262,000 kilos of steel have been utilised as well as 2,250 square metres of glass and 3,350 metres of ornamentation. Furthermore, 650 DWG designs have been produced, 400 constructive designs, 5,500 3D reconstructions and more than 7,000 emails have been exchanged between the participants in the project.