Duomo di Orvieto
Showcase for the display and preservation of Reliquario of Ugolino di Vieri

Orvieto, Terni, Italy




A masterpiece of Gothic style, the reliquary in the Duomo’s Chapel of the Corporal was created by the Sienese master goldsmith Ugolino di Vieri in 1337-38.
The triptych of silver, enamel and precious stones depicts 24 scenes from the life of Christ and eight episodes of the Miracle of Bolsena.

Exhibition design: Raffaele Davanzo, Luciano Marchetti, Giusi Testa, Giuseppe Basile, Rome

The challenge

The essential task Goppion and the technicians of the Instituto Centrale del Restauro faced was conservation: the fragile reliquary of silver, enamel and precious stones was visibly decaying.

We had to immediately place it in a microclimate that would protect it from shifts in humidity levels, exposure to corrosive substances, and minor seismic vibrations that might cause the enamel to flake off even more. We also had to ensure that the fine detail and delicate beauty of the masterpiece was clearly visible to all.

The solution

To respond to these needs, we constructed a large, environmentally controlled, display case entirely of glass. Its distinctive system for opening and closing the case features a pantograph mechanism that allows the entire enclosing case to be lifted above the height of the reliquary. The precious artifact can thus be inserted or removed without having to tilt it or subject it any other movements that would pose a risk to its conservation. The object’s safety is further secured by a spring-mounted oscillating weight to isolate and protect it from vibrations, particularly seismic tremors, by absorbing any energy applied to the structure.