Guideline 11.1

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Back to STANDARD 11: Exhibit Mounts and Supports

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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Guideline 11.1: The mounting requirements of exhibit objects are planned early in the design phase.[edit | edit source]

Why is it important to plan mounts early in the design phase?[edit | edit source]

Many exhibit design decisions will have an impact upon the style, requirements and cost of the exhibit mounts, the most critical being whether to display objects in an open format or within exhibit cases. The exhibit team must therefore make the initial decisions about object presentation early in the design phase. Furthermore, there are many different preservation-responsible methods to support and mount any object, and discussing options with a conservator early will help with making a selection.

The curator, conservator, and other relevant team members should discuss mounting options with the designer, preparator, and installer. Broad decisions to be made include:

  • To mount or not to mount
  • If mounting, whether to use generic or custom mounts
  • The particular design and style to be used, especially for custom mounts
  • Methods of attaching object to mount and mount to exhibit structure

Several issues common to custom mounts can have an impact on conservation and must be addressed. Discussions should resolve the following questions:

  • The acceptable viewing angle, appearance and the geometry of the object on display
  • Whether the objects should be displayed in a vertical or a shelf-supported position
  • How highly-vulnerable objects such as textiles and documents will be mounted
  • Size of the mount
  • Materials used to construct the mount
  • Finishing of the mount
  • Method of holding the object
  • Method of attachment to the structure or exhibit furniture
  • Whether a mounting system will be used—such as support wires suspended from the ceiling or an attachment system for the walls or floor

Proper mounting can take considerable time and resources to produce. There may not be enough time to mount all objects safely. In which case alternative objects could be selected or generic rather than custom mounting could be used.