The Smithsonian National Museum of American History curated its first dedicated permanent exploration of US entertainment History. This new multimedia exhibition called “Entertainment Nation”/“Nación del espectáculo”, which is also the largest long-term bilingual exhibition on the National Mall, is featuring more than 200 objects in a unique setting, immersing the visitors for an incredible journey through US pop culture history over the last 150 years.
These include, to name a few, Prince’s Yellow Cloud Guitar, Muhammad Ali’s Boxing Warm Up Robe, the original Kermit the Frog and the costumes of R2-D2 and C-3PO from the “Return of the Jedi” film of the Star Wars series. Most of the objects are planned to rotate every year as entertainment continues to change, providing a forum for important national conversations about society and politics.
Meyvaert was selected to supply the majority of the showcases, 28 in total. The scope consisted of 8 different types, including round showcases and some very large wall cases, all requiring impeccable integration in the sophisticated setworks fabricated by Cinnabar, the fit out company. The cases also had to include flexible internals to allow for frequent artefact rotation. In addition to a tight schedule, the installation was challenging as it took place while the museum was open to the public, hence rigorous logistics coordination was necessary to allow for unloading during closing hours.
The cases have been engineered to be self-supporting and independent to avoid unnecessary junctions with the building structure. However, all interfaces with the assemblies built by Cinnabar were carefully managed to ensure a perfect and smooth fit with the showcases. The large red round cases for example are a great, eyecatching illustration of a seamless integration with the “red carpet” aesthetic effect looked after by the designer.
Another specificity of these same round cases, equipped with a lift off front glass panel, is the unique trolley system that has been developed by our engineering team for easy removal and opening of the case by only 1 person despite of the heavy weight.
In order to allow for easy artefact rotation, which is a key feature of this exhibit, all cases are equipped with a large range of adjustable internals and accessories to present maximum flexibility. These range from back panels to embedded Arakawa compatible rails, light attic with a unique modular truss system for easy modification of the lighting tracks position, as well as wash lights mounted on the ceiling. All these options needed to be explicitly represented in our detailed CAD drawings, including all connecting components.
© Jay Rosenblatt Photography, LLC
Smithsonian National Museum of American History
Reich & Petch
16 wall cases, 9 freestanding cases & 3 round cases
Exhibit Fabricator: Cinnabar
Photos: © Jay Rosenblatt Photography, LLC