Crossing Borders

 

Crossing Borders was an exhibition of exquisite medieval manuscripts at The Jewish Museum. MESH designed the exhibition plan, the custom steel, walnut, and acrylic vitrines, the lighting, the graphics (with Karlsson Wilker), and the web site (http://bodleian.thejewishmuseum.org).  The material embodies the crossing over of cultural influences among Jews, Muslims, and Christians at a rare time of relative harmony among the European religions. To show other pages of the manuscripts in addition to the ones on display, we designed iPads to be flush-mounted in the vitrines, right next to the actual manuscript. The iPad resolution is astonishing and holds its own alonside the original.  And as the pre-eminent form of the book today, the iPad presents a satisfying way to experience a thousand-year-old book – intimate, tactile. The museum commissioned a full photo capture of the Kennicott Bible, and the entire 922 pages are viewable on 5 iPads in the show. Instead of arranging the vitrines around the room, as in a traditional layout, MESH installed over sized, double-sided vitrines in the middle of each gallery. This layout directs visitors to gather around the vitrines for a more communal experience where we are aware of both the objects on display and our fellow visitors. The lighting of the manuscripts is a unique process invented by MESH.  We hung compact, LED-based media projectors  above each vitrine.  Through a careful process, documented in a video on Vimeo.com, MESH created a masking image for each projector that trims the light precisely to the shapes of the objects and labels. The stark contrast makes the requisite low light levels appear brighter, using LED light assures that no UV rays can damage the manuscripts, and the manuscripts assume a glowing aura that draws us in to each one.