One of the displays that I especially liked houses a piece of gold jewelry. While the exact function of the piece is unknown, it was probably the central element on a longer chain, whether a belt, necklace, or other adornment. Its workmanship is superb: the granulation of tiny gold spheres soldered onto the piece is on par with the best work from Etruria, the masters of this technique. (Here is a nice short video about gold granulation by the Met Museum.)
On a study trip with students recently, I got to visit the wonderful historical museum in Écija, Spain - the Museo Histórico Municipal housed in the beautiful Palacio de Benamejí. Both the town and the museum are less well-known than they should be; they are not only beautiful, but full of treasures waiting to be discovered! As archaeologists we were thrilled by the artifact collections and the exciting excavations that took place under the main plaza, once the Roman forum. In addition, the museologically oriented among us delighted in the presentation in the museum. Thanks to a tour by museum director Antonio Ugalde, we got an in-depth look at the history of the area from the prehistoric to the late Roman periods. The school groups that come through here can hardly know how lucky they are!
Including a hugely enlarged photo of the piece (see below) is a good way to help viewers appreciate the detail. At the same time, it's important to lure them to look at the piece itself rather than stopping at the picture alone. This is done by the special case and lighting on the gold piece: the case is a cone shape projecting from the wall, highlighting the tiny treasure in a way that lures you irresistibly to take a closer peek. The conical bubble draws you in like a magnet! It is helped by the single light from overhead, lighting it in a golden glow. We were pulled toward it like a moth to the flame.
Ideas on Display
A humble space to reflect on concepts of museum display as enacted across a wide range of subjects, countries, and approaches.