Goppion designs the display case for the legendary Messiah Stradivarius

16 Sep 2016

Cremona’s Museum of the Violin, which opened in 2015, marks a significant milestone in Goppion’s work for music museums – a fundamental part of the company’s history.

The elegant display cases created by architects Giorgio Palù and Michele Bianchi, distinctive for their unusually light design and sophisticated conditioning system which expertly preserves the fruit of the violin maker’s ‘savoir fare’ (an art now included in the UNESCO List of Cultural Heritage), are now joined by an innovative glass showcase which between 15th September and 18th December will hold the legendary Messiah Stradivarius, the most valuable – and the most famous – violin in the world.

The freestanding vertical case is made entirely from glass, and takes inspiration from the cabinets which Goppion crafted in 2015 for the Music & Tapestry Gallery at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, the home which the Messiah has not left since 1939.

Made by Antonio Stradivari in 1716, during the golden age in which he produced his best instruments, the violin has been a ‘collector’s piece’ from the outset. It has rarely been played and always closely guarded by its various owners, so much so that it was compared to the Messiah: He who is always expected but never appears. The care which has gone into preserving it over the centuries explains its exceptional condition today, the source of its legendary reputation. Its varnish is still intact, as though it had just left the Maestro’s workshop.

Goppion’s showcase (which will subsequently be used for temporary exhibits) needed to guarantee exceptional standards of conservation and safety as well as meeting the needs of future exhibitors. The fact that it would stand on a glass floor and would be moved around frequently meant that the case could not exceed a certain weight.

These considerations led Goppion to design and produce a next-generation display case featuring a recent innovation, the ‘platform frame’ system.

This load-bearing frame consists of a platform made from horizontal aluminium beams connected by alloy corner joints. The weight of the sheets of glass is borne by the joints, thereby reducing stress on the horizontal beams and improving the stability and strength of the whole case. Using aluminium helps makes the structure considerably lighter.

An identical yet even lighter frame is used in the lid of the showcase, where the lighting system (perimeter LED spotlights) is housed.

To boost versatility and flexibility even further, the inside of the case has two metal plinths in different heights which can be easily interchanged to display different exhibits. The runner inside the lid comes with a sliding metal hook, making it possible to adjust the height of the cable which suspends the instrument on display.