Goppion partners with Florence’s Museo dell’Opera del Duomo to protect the Baptistery’s south door

01 Dec 2019

The set of bronze and gold south doors by Andrea Pisano has been reinstalled alongside the Florence Baptistery’s two other sets of doors in the Sala del Paradiso in the new Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.

Following a three-year restoration, the impressive doors, made between 1330 and 1336 by the Tuscan sculptor, are once again on display to the public starting December 9, standing alongside the monumental Renaissance doors by Ghiberti, also protected by Goppion: the Gates of Paradise and the north doors.

The Milanese company is proud of their long partnership with Florence’s Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. The leading company in the engineering and manufacturing of display and conservation systems for museums, famous the world over for its display cases protecting the Mona Lisa and the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, was brought on board during the museum’s renovation in 2012, led by Guicciardini & Magni Architetti. This massive renovation project more than doubled the museum’s original exhibition space from 2,500 square metres to 6,000 square metres, housing over 750 Renaissance artworks.

At the time, Goppion was given the task of designing fifty glass cases for the new set-up, special displays made to conserve the most fragile pieces in the collection, including the silver altar – conserved under nitrogen – Mary Magdalene by Donatello, Pollaiolo’s silver cross, panel paintings, priceless gold works, wooden models, liturgical drapes, delicately embroidered panels, and manuscripts.

One of the greatest challenges was the installations designed specifically to conserve the Baptistery’s three famous sets of doors. The first to be installed in the new room dedicated to them was the Gates of Paradise in 2015, followed by the north doors. Now, the set of south doors has been installed, resplendent, in an elegant and state-of-the-art glass case. The structure enclosing the glass is 6.3 metres tall, 4.3 metres wide, and 2 metres deep. Just like those protecting the other two sets of doors, it is made with steel and varnished with non-toxic paint, closed with special seals and equipped with safety glass. The depth of the display case allows for the eight-ton set of doors to be moved on special tracks. This makes it easier for restorers to continuously monitor the priceless artwork and intervene on scaffolding when necessary.

The hermetic display case is equipped with a latest-generation system to check the temperature and humidity, capable of guaranteeing the perfect environment for conserving the work. Pisano’s doors, just like Ghiberti’s, need to be contained in an extremely dry environment, with less than 15% humidity at all times, in order to prevent the materials from oxidizing and unstable salts forming between the bronze surface and the gilded layer. Through a system of valves and humidifiers inside the display cases, the humidity and temperature can be easily adjusted.

For the occasion, Goppion also added to the exhibition in the Sala delle Cantorie, installing a case that matches those already in the room containing Donatello’s terracottas.