The museum is situated in the department of Pas-de-Calais where some of the fiercest fighting of the First World War took place, resulting in a legacy of stories and objects that bear witness to the cruelty and suffering. The Musée Historial tells of soldiers and their lives in the trenches and behind the lines.
70 000 artefacts provide rich temporary and permanent exhibitions. Military and civilian objects from Allied and Central powers illustrate day to day life. There are newspapers, posters, postcards, and trench handicrafts.
We had to give proof of our technical ability to engineer showcases with a particular design. There was also the need of being able to work alongside many other contractors, so all interventions needed be well-planned in phases. We replied swiftly to these requirements with a pre-designed technical proposal during tender stage, and were awarded the contract. The majority of the cases were long recessed wall cases of which one was a 26m long curved construction. Presence of ventilation units within the base construction, as well as above the cases, had to be taken in account during the design phase.
A particular challenge was redeveloping the existing pull and slide mechanism to allow 70 % opening in both directions. A central aligning positioning mechanism was required for each of the continuous doors, to prevent damage to adjacent doors while closing.
The main challenge was matching the mechanism for the curved wall cases with a similar design for the straight wall cases. We bent profiles with great accuracy, which required specific bending technology. Large curved glass volumes had to be produced with equal accuracy. The long surfaces of continuous glass without structural interruptions resulted in giving the galleries an uncluttered and uniform look.
We also developed a bespoke internal shelving system that was free of brackets or suspension points. We achieved this by using a clamping system discreetly installed behind painted alubond panels. The system allows for repositioning the shelves.
Musée Historial de la Grande Guerre
Custom recessed wall cases
Photos: Philippe Gruit, Alamy, Hemis, Maurice Savage, Nicolas Bryant