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Subject: Magnets for exhibition mounting

Magnets for exhibition mounting

From: Karen Potje <kpotje<-a>
Date: Thursday, October 30, 2008
Metta Humle Jorgensen <mette.humle [at] natmus__dk> writes

>Has anyone used magnets/magnetic for exhibition mounting? If so,
>what is your experience with it?

At the Canadian Centre for Architecture we have recently started
using magnets to mount artefacts to the back wall of exhibition
cases.   Many exhibition designers do not want to frame art on
paper--they feel it looks too precious--so we have been
experimenting with ways to mount unframed objects in exhibition
cases.   For the past few shows we've mounted objects on acid free
matboard and then attached the matboard mounts to the wall with 3M
415 double-sided tape.  But this was not very satisfactory, since
once placed, the object's position  couldn't be changed, and
removing objects from the wall at the end of the show was very risky
to them.

Our conservator, Romain Guedj, designed a method of using magnets
for the show we put up just last week.  Because our designer didn't
want the objects to be offset from the wall more than the thickness
of the matboard we prepared all of the matboard mounts with their
magnets *before* attaching the artefacts to them.  Each matboard
mount was cut to size (as large as, or just barely larger then, the
artefact).   A hole 5cm. in diameter was punched in each corner and,
for larger objects, at wide intervals along the sides.   A circle of
mylar attached with double-sided tape  closed the top of the hole. A
small rare earth magnet (0.5 cm. diameter, 2 cm. thickness) was
inset into each hole and the hole was closed on the underside, again
with a circle of mylar.  The result was a mounting board with
magnets inset into the corners, flush with the surface of the board.
The artefact was then hinged to the prepared mounting board.  The
mounted artefact could be easily mounted to the metal wall (or, in
our case, to a sheet of metal which had itself been attached to the
wall.)  Some objects were, for aesthetic reasons, shown in mats. The
backboards of the mats had magnets set into them in the same way.

We found installation easy, and were also able to easily dismount
objects as needed.

The largest object we mounted this way measured 72 x 60 cm.

A disadvantage of this system is that we have to inset magnets in
individual mounting boards for each object.  That's time consuming.
Hopefully for a future exhibition our designer will accept a
moderate distance or thickness between the artefact and the wall. In
that case we could use your idea--put a little square of with a
magnet attached to it behind each corner of the matboard mount.

The Conservation Department liked this system enough that we've
suggested to our Exhibitions department that they retrofit a small
section of permanent wall vitrines with metal back walls and side

We found the small magnets strong enough for our purposes.  (We had
tested the effectiveness of our small magnets by affixing a matboard
mount with inset magnets to the metal door of our lab.  After days
and days of the door opening and closing the test panel didn't

We are doing tests now with using larger and stronger magnets to
mount book cradles (or shelves).  But--the stronger the magnet the
harder it is to detach from the wall.  And one of our objectives is
to find an easily dismountable system.  I would think that, for
larger paper artefacts mounted on matboard, several small magnets at
each corner would be safer to use than one large one there.
Otherwise you might endanger the artefact in dismounting it.

Karen Potje
for Romain Guedj
Canadian Centre for Architecture

                  Conservation DistList Instance 22:26
                 Distributed: Sunday, November 2, 2008
                       Message Id: cdl-22-26-005
Received on Thursday, 30 October, 2008

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