Partnership produces spectacular environments for the AGO

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An international partnership between kubik and Click Netherfield has played a key role in the unveiling of the Thomson Collections of Ship Models and European Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). The two companies teamed up to create a range of stunning environments, beautiful displays and one-off showcases to house the remarkable collections which go on view to the public for the first time ever on 14 November 2008.

We are absolutely thrilled to be a part of the Transformation AGO. It’s an honor for our team to fabricate and install such creative and beautiful displays and to be able to work with outstanding partners like Gehry International and kubik, said Mike Chaplin, Technical Director, Click Netherfield. Opportunities like this do not come along very often and we believe the result is one of the most dramatic museum showcase projects in the world.

The team’s work includes eleven free-standing and six spectacular curved glass showcases for the Thomson Collection of Ship Models and twenty custom-built wall cases and eighteen free-standing cases for the Thomson Collection of European Art.

The Thomson Collection of Ship Models

The dramatic installation for the Thomson Collection of Ship Models features one of the largest collection of ship models ever assembled – over 130 examples from the Napoleonic era through the 20th century. The ship models range in size from an inch or two to nearly nine feet long, a number were made by prisoners-of-war and are carved from bone and feature rigging made of silk and human hair. The collection is housed in a series of stunning Gehry designed, curved glass showcases.

When we first visited Gehry International and were shown the model of the European galleries, we saw exquisitely designed, subtly detailed case work and displays that involved numerous finishes and unique applications, said Ryan Skorch, Projects and Development Director, kubik. Then we saw the mock-up of the cases for the ship models, with their striking curved glass and incredibly complex design, and we suddenly realized – wow – this is why we’re here.

The case work to display the Thomson Collection of Ship Models is extraordinarily complex and unlike anything that has ever been done before. In order to achieve Gehry International’s challenging design, the team had to undertake many stages of materials sampling and engineering prototypes. The curved glass and case geometry pushed the latest computer-aided design technology to the absolute limits and involved over six different computer programs.

The amazing end result, six stunning stand-alone curved glass showcases, firmly demonstrates the value of rigorously testing design and production methods and the ability of the kubik / Click Netherfield team to turn vision into reality.

So many experts thought this type of case-work construction simply couldn’t be done, but as visitors to the ship models gallery will clearly see, they forgot to tell our team that, said Chaplin. The gallery features some of the finest case work I have ever seen.

The Thomson Collection of European Art

The Thomson Collection of European Art, on view for the first time at the AGO, will feature over 900 medieval, Renaissance and Baroque sacred and secular works of art, the highlight of which is the recently rediscovered 17th century masterpiece by Peter Paul Rubens, The Massacre of the Innocents.

Throughout these galleries, kubik-Maltbie has fashioned cases that have been exquisitely detailed with a range of beautiful finishes including granite, marble and copper in order to complement the beautiful objects on display. Two Gehry International designed roomettes – small 56 square foot enclosures, one clad in shining, overlapping copper tiles, the other in black slate – create intimate spaces for visitors to view exquisite works such as illuminated manuscripts.

The range of materials used in the cases and displays throughout the European galleries – gold leaf, galvanized metal, polished copper, huge sheets of mitered glass, Douglas fir – were all selected and used to wonderfully complement the rooms, the galleries and the collection, said Skorch. In any gallery, you don’t want people looking at the case work, you want them looking at the special objects they’re designed to hold; but from the back-lit label decks and the object illumination to the ingenious design and construction, we believe these displays set a new standard for museums and galleries.

A Partnership in Vision, Fabrication and Installation

“Our group – from the designers, to the engineers, to the installers – worked as a seamless team. It’s very rare to work on a project like this where so many partners are able to come together effortlessly to achieve a common goal: crafting elegant, appropriate environments that really showcase the best the AGO has to offer, said Chaplin.

Click and Netherfield built their reputations on the design and manufacture of quality museum showcases.  In 2006, they became a single integrated company – Click Netherfield – offering a unique level of experience, expertise and resources in the design and manufacture of showcases for museums worldwide. kubik-Maltbie, is one of the finest and most experienced specialists for visitor centers, museums and exhibition projects around the world.

The Click Netherfield kubik-Maltbie team was the ideal partner for this project, said Linda Milrod, Program Director, Transformation AGO Project. Not only were they able to fast-track the design, development, client consultation and fabrication of these great showcases, they also brought their unique capabilities to the partnership of Gehry International and the AGO. They are an amazing team that was consistently able to pull off what often seemed impossible.

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