STANDARD 10: Use and Design of Exhibit Enclosures

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The following Standards and Guidelines are a work in progress intended to spur discussion between exhibit personnel, conservators and other museum professionals. Please check back in the future as information is added to expand on the Guidelines without currently active links.
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Standard 10:Exhibit cases should be utilized whenever possible and must always be carefully designed to promote object safety and fulfill the Conservation Requirements

From a preservation perspective, enclosed display is the preferred choice for exhibiting vulnerable museum collections. The option to use closed displays should always be carefully considered, regardless of any other preservation strategies to be employed, because a well-designed closed display provides unmatched protection. And effective protection for the most vulnerable objects can only be provided by an enclosure.

While enclosures are always to be preferred from a preservation standpoint, in certain instances, closed display may not be a feasible choice. Interpretive requirements, such as displays within historic buildings, may require open display. In sculpture and painting galleries open display is often necessitated because of aesthetic requirements. Conservation safeguards must then be provided on the macro level throughout the exhibit area.

click on the individual Guidelines below to read more information

Guideline 10.1: Enclosures are used whenever possible and are always used for vulnerable exhibit objects.

Why is closed display always recommended for protection of exhibit objects?
What are the conservation advantages of well-designed and carefully fabricated Display Cases?


Guideline 10.2: Enclosures are carefully designed and fabricated to promote object safety and ensure they meet the Conservation Requirements

Why is appropriate design and fabrication of cases essential?
What security options are available in exhibit case design?
What exhibit case features protect exhibit objects from physical damage?
What options are available to protect objects from water damage and fire?
What lighting options are available to protect objects from inappropriate light exposure in cases?
What options are available to protect objects from inappropriate humidity fluctuations in cases?
What options are available to protect objects from inappropriate temperature in cases?
What options are available to protect objects from pollutants and contaminants in cases?
What design features in cases protect objects from pests?


Guideline 10.3: The design for the exhibit cases utilizes object-safe materials

What materials can be used to construct object-safe exhibit cases?


Guideline 10.4: Extra precautions are taken to protect objects when open display is unavoidable

Are there circumstances under which open display is appropriate?
What precautions must be taken to protect objects in open display conditions?