AN ECONOMICAL DESIGN FOR A MICROCLIMATE VITRINE FOR PAINTINGS USING THE PICTURE FRAME AS THE PRIMARY HOUSING
LAURENT S. G. SOZZANI
3 A NEW, ECONOMICAL DESIGN
In 1993 the following design for creating a microclimate vitrine for individual paintings was officially recognized by the Dutch Ministry of Culture2 as a viable and economical alternative to the more costly commercially fabricated vitrines following the Bosshard design. This design, like Hackney's (1990) enclosure, uses a picture's frame as the vitrine body. It differs primarily in that it is a completely sealed microclimate. It is meant to be produced in-house with a minimum number of components added to the frame, by personnel with basic conservation framing, glazing, and woodworking skills. Though intended primarily for wooden panel paintings, the design is also suitable for other framed artworks in need of a microclimate, such as paintings on canvas, parchment, and paper. This frame-vitrine design was first used by the paintings department of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam for three panel paintings by Rembrandt that traveled with the exhibition Rembrandt: The Master and His Workshop in 1991–92. With modifications it has subsequently been used for a number of other pictures, both traveling for loan and on permanent display.
Simply stated, the design consists of airtight glazing at the front and an airtight backplate attached to the reverse of the frame. The frame itself provides the airtight seal at the edges. In the case of an insect-damaged, very thin, or otherwise porous frame, the inside of the frame rabbet can be sealed with impermeable sheeting. Sealing and mounting variations are made to suit the needs of both painting and frame.