Goppion has an educational experience at Harvard

14 Nov 2014

The Harvard Art Museums reopened to the public on November 16 after a transformative renovation and expansion designed by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop. Piano’s design brings together the Fogg, Busch-Reisinger and the Arthur M. Sackler Museums within a single state-of-the-art facility, where highlights from the museums’ collections of over 250,000 works, many donated by University alumni, are displayed.

Harvard officials say the project illustrates their commitment to making it easier for students, faculty, scholars and the public to explore one of the world’s great institutions for fine arts scholarship and research.

The essence of the new museums is expressed and experienced around the building’s heightened Calderwood Courtyard, the two lower levels originally constructed in 1927 to replicate a Renaissance-era square. Three new levels now rise through five stories to a glass roof “lantern” that suffuses the space with light. The design integrates the existing 1920s Georgian Revival building with the glazed rooftop structure, joining the entirety of the original and the new components of the project.

For this project, Goppion fabricated most of the casework in the permanent and special exhibition galleries. The company had worked with Harvard University in the past, supplying furnishings and display cases for the Florence-based Villa I Tatti. Goppion also had the opportunity to work again with wHY Architecture, who designed the casework’s vocabulary and placement with the museums curators - resulting in a spatially generous and subtly stylish installation. Our firms had last collaborated on a significant installation at the Art Institute of Chicago.

The result of these collaborations offered Goppion the opportunity to engineer, manufacture and install more than 300 different, unique display cases based on its System Q.

System Q represents a range of options, with unlimited possibilities for combining different components and functional specifications, including opening systems, interiors, lighting and climate control.

The work at Harvard provided the opportunity to make further advances in the functionalities of System Q case types, allowing Goppion to develop, optimize and patent two innovative opening systems whose technical components are located in the pane of glass, yet completely hidden from the visitor.

The distinctive quality of these cases is their linear nature, narrow profiles and extremely simple shape. The engineering components disappear - embedded into the panes of glass or their junctures, allowing for overall transparency and unobstructed views of the works of art.

The display cases have been designed and engineered to be sympathetic to the new architecture of the space, and they share the qualities of linearity, lightness and luminosity. They are like “transparent boxes” - extremely simple and elegant. And while they are themselves expressions of the high standards of Italian design recognized throughout the world, their function is to disappear and allow the viewer to focus on the objects inside.

We believe these display cases fully respect the Harvard Art Museums’ mission of teaching and research and encouraging “close looking and critical thinking through the examination of original works of art.”