Our ability to interpret ambitious design ideas into cost-effective and innovative display solutions can be found in museums around the world.
We work with museum curators, exhibition designers, and leading showcase manufacturers on projects that range in size from the ten new galleries at the National Museum of Scotland (Museum + Heritage Best Permanent Exhibition 2017), to mounting a single piece for an iconic luxury brand.
Every one of our mounts is custom made for the object using the finest conservation-grade materials. We work with steel and stainless steel, brass, acrylic, resin, wood, glass and Corian to create mounts that display the object to best effect. Finishing, including powder-coating, patinating, brushing, polishing or spray-painting the surface, completes the look.
Pre and post-exhibition, we can provide detailed condition reports and advise on collection care and environmental monitoring. Should any object be damaged in transit, our experts are on hand to carry out high-quality restoration treatment.
We install permanent and touring exhibitions anywhere in the world.
Whatever the size or scale of the project, our experience displaying objects that range from tiny Roman coins to racing cars ensures that everything we display mount is safe, secure and shown to best advantage.
images courtesy of the Garden Museum
One of the most iconic pieces in the Garden Museum’s collection is the World War One period Flanders poppy. One of only two original poppies taken from Flanders during the conflict, this delicate dried flower arrived with a number of other pressed flowers, which Plowden & Smith was asked to design an attractive layout for, and then to mount using conservation grade materials.
An Edwardian arrangement of pressed flowers was used as inspiration for the layout to ensure that the design was period appropriate. Each individual flower was then attached to a backing using tiny strips of Japanese tissue paper, selected for its delicacy and transparency, and minute amounts of wheat starch adhesive.
Whilst the conservation work was being carried out, our exhibitions department was busy making a bespoke object display mount for each exhibit in the museum.
Many of the mounts and plinths were made of clear Perspex, a discreet display solution which gives exhibits the appearance of floating. We also made a number of brass armature mounts, finished to resemble the surface of a galvanised metal watering can.
For one particular display, The Garden Museum requested a flexible mounting solution that would allow staff members to easily move the individual exhibits. We had previously come up with the idea of magnet-backed mounts at the Stonehenge museum and we used an adapted version of this solution for the display.
Once the mounts were made, a team of two to three specialists spent three weeks onsite installing the exhibition.
One of the largest and heaviest objects to install were the gates from John Tradescant’s House, which weighed in excess of 100kg. The museum had requested that the gates be raised off the ground and floated some 200mm in front of the supporting wall. Welded steel brackets, thoughtfully positioned, resulted in a very strong yet discreet support.
THE GARDEN MUSEUM
The Garden Museum is the UK’s best record of how gardens have changed over the centuries. Artefacts include the oldest watering can in Britain, Gertrude Jekyll’s desk and the 17th Century Tradescant gates from the home of Charles I’s gardener, John Tradescant.
Following on from a major redevelopment programme, Plowden & Smith was asked to mount and install approximately 250 objects to be displayed throughout the newly enlarged museum galleries.
Conservation treatment was required for over 100 items, including consolidation techniques on a 19th Century shop sign with flaking paint, straightening the finial of a silver teapot, and restoring a broken finger from a terracotta relief of Christ.
Our paper specialists conserved a number of works in the collection: treatments included cleaning, flattening, repairing tears and conservation-mounting using Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste. A plan of the Eden Project drawn on tracing paper – a very delicate, hydroscopic material – required extremely discreet hinges that would not show through the translucent paper.
mounting an original WW1 era Flanders poppy
the 100kg Tradescant gates were float-mounted 200mm away from the supporting wall
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF SCOTLAND
One of Plowden & Smith’s largest projects in the UK to date has been display mounting and installing around 8,000 objects across the National Museum of Scotland’s ten new state-of-the-art galleries.
We built a fully equipped, six-man workshop to carry out the full range of mount-making processes on-site. The work encompassed an incredibly diverse range of objects, including Islamic tiles, meteorites, Samurai swords, fibreglass fish and designer shoes.
Every measurement needed to be precise in order to show off each piece to best advantage, securely supporting the object while protecting it from too much pressure.
images courtesy of the National Museum of Scotland