The long-awaited reopening of the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver will unveil treasures which are being exhibited in glass cabinets made in Italy by the Goppion Laboratorio Museotecnico workshop. The treasures are examples of artefacts from the civilisation of the Native Americans as well as precious collections of objects from all around the world and have been on view since January 23rd just ahead of the opening ceremony of the 21st Winter Olympic Games scheduled for February 12th.
This is the first prize on the Medal Table for the Italian team. Awarding Goppion such a particularly significant task both in terms of size as well as in technical complexity has acknowledged the strength of our home-grown know-how in the planning and construction of glass display cabinets that are of a high level in technological terms. The 79 cabinets made for the project – many of which “interactive” on account of the 560 large controllable automatic closing drawers with special devices enabling protective preservation – are already working.
An exceptional amount of visitors are expected in the period of sports competitions during the Games. There are display cabinets exhibiting original ceremonial masks, totem poles, canoes and decorated paddles, textiles and everyday utensils, all of which having inspired the iconography in films of this genre from the beginning of the last century to more recent years. Themes related to indigenous art have been utilised today in the designs of the Olympic medals and official mascots.
The First Nations, communities that have descended from the native populations of British Columbia, have assumed a primary role both in the organisation of the Games as well as in the planning of the new sections of the Museum of Anthropology. The highlight of the 55.5 million dollar enlargement of the Museum of Anthropology is the store-room collection open to the general public which now house the tailor-made display cabinets made by the Goppion Laboratorio Museotecnico workshop. These have been called the Multiversity Galleries with collections exhibited in galleries which are adjacent to the room containing the statue which symbolises the site and which was created by Bill Reid. Bill Reid is a contemporary artist and descends from the Haida tribe. In a Wunderkammer-like atmosphere, visitors can gain access to extraordinary collections of objects which are highly evocative as they embark upon a voyage of discovery among the secret treasures of the museum. In order to ensure the perfect state of preservation of these exhibits, artefacts which for the most part are made of materials of an organic nature like leather, vegetable fibres and wood, Goppion has guaranteed strict control of the micro-climate within the glass cases. This has been made possible thanks to research studies carried out on works like the Mona Lisa and San Giovannino by Leonardo da Vinci, works of art which are both protected by Goppion glass cabinets.
The Canadian Stantec research study designed the enlargement of the museum in collaboration with Arthur Eickson, who has recently passed away, and was responsible for the main nucleus of the building. He was one of the foremost figures in Canadian architecture. Although the design of the original post-modern 1976 structure was respected, the renovated museum has doubled in size and has established itself as the finest section of the University of British Columbia. Apart from the 128,000 visitors which tour around its galleries every year, the museum is also a centre for research and welcomes experts and academics from all over the world.