Tower of London

Jewel House

London, United Kingdom

1993-1994

The Crown Jewels of Great Britain are displayed in the new Jewel House, built in 1994 on the specially restored ground floor of the Waterloo Block of the Tower of London. The display is organized to follow the sequence in which the jewels
are used in the coronation ceremony. Two innovative moving walkways prevent
overcrowding in front of the display cases containing the precious masterpieces.

Exhibition design: Sidell Gibson Partnership, London

The challenge

This challenge was particularly difficult. The material and symbolic value of the collection is immeasurable. Every aspect of the display cases required considerable innovation: security to protect against theft, vandalism, and bomb attacks; conservation to protect the precious metals and stones from particles and polluting agents; aesthetics to follow classical form and the use of valuable, even unusual materials like brass; and mechanics to create opening systems capable of safely moving very heavy doors and bonnets. Moreover, every phase of the project, from conceptualization through mock-ups and planning to production and installation, had to be completed under unprecedented confidentiality.

The solution

Security requirements drove the technical aspects of this project, but in order to seamlessly mesh with the classical architecture of the original building, aesthetic considerations were equally critical. To meet those two requirements, Goppion developed and applied the principle of zero clearance. The display cases include an advanced, centralized active climatization system that maintains ideal temperature and humidity levels in the display environment. Fiber-optic units with accent lighting illuminate each display case, producing exceptional refraction and reflection from some of the most precious stones in the world.