Man looks at a long display case at the German Museum of Books and Writing in Leipzig, Germany

German Museum of Books and Writing Leipzig, Germany

When an exhibition was unveiled at the German Museum of Books and Writing, Leipzig in 2012, it featured an extraordinary visual display of artifacts. Showcases using SCHOTT MIRONA®, an “intelligent” glass that can be altered to be transparent or reflective depending on lighting, created a unique feature.

Background

To mark the opening of the Leipzig Buchmuseum (the German Museum of Books and Writing) in March 2012, a permanent exhibition spread over nearly 1,000 m2 was curated. This exhibition depicted the historical development of media formats, from the first printing press up to 20th century books and magazines, and on to the digital realm of the internet. Titled “Codes – Books – Networks: from Cuneiform Writing to Binary Code”, the exhibition needed an inviting display to entice visitors into that area of the museum, a challenge that was solved by SCHOTT MIRONA® glass.

Display case at the German Museum of Books and Writing in Leipzig, Germany

Task

The curators of the new museum planned to present the exhibits in an appealing and original way, using multimedia to enhance the experience of the viewer. However, this was not as straightforward as it sounds, since the different materials in the display posed a considerable challenge. Alongside artifacts made of wood, stone, paper and metal, LED information displays and digital media such as e-book devices aimed to draw the viewer into a dynamic and interactive 3D presentation of the last century’s developments in mass media.

Solution

Using state-of-the-art glass technology, SCHOTT helped to design a highly original visual approach for the exhibition. To present the exhibits and information, a large display case, 2.8 m high and 21 m in length, was selected to complement the other displays in the room. For the glazing, SCHOTT MIRONA® High-Reflective Grey glass was processed as a laminated safety glass with tightly defined transmission and reflection properties. The glass has the advantage of showing a clear view of the artifacts when illuminated, while offering reflections of the viewer and information text and imagery on the glass surface.

Shining a light on the history of media

The semi-transparent SCHOTT MIRONA® proved to be a highly innovative way of presenting the museum’s milestones of media development. Unlike switchable glass products used in other museums, the special coatings of MIRONA® High Reflective Grey glass and clever use of lighting are all that are needed to transform MIRONA® from a mirror into a transparent window, transfixing the viewer. The glass is manufactured via a sol-gel dipping process developed by SCHOTT, which applies a metal oxide layer to add clarity under certain light conditions and enhance reflection when the light is in front of the glass.

An immersive experience

Viewers of the Buchmuseum exhibition at the Museum of Books and Writing found their focus drawn to several aspects of the display at different stages of their visit. When the space behind the glass is dark, SCHOTT MIRONA® forms an elegant mirror. But when light is shone from behind, it becomes a transparent window, enabling the staging of spaces and objects. At the museum, the visitor periodically appears on the reflective glass along with the text, images, and the rest of the exhibition room, making the viewer feel like an integral part of a 3D production.

Used materials & similar products

SCHOTT MIRONA® is a unique glass that has the ability to transform from an elegant mirror to a transparent window. This effect is achieved using a complex design and coating process in which the glass is dipped in a series of metal oxide solutions. These oxidic coatings produce an optical interference layer that provides both defined transmission and reflection to enable MIRONA® to fulfill its dual function.

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