In a previous post, I talked about our training program and how we get new employees comfortable with incorporating glazing choice into our design discussions. While most of the glazing we sell is glass, we make sure our new employees are versed in options for acrylic as well.
We follow the same plan for training our employees on understanding acrylic options as we do for all other products. The formal education of watching videos, following scripts and handling sample pieces, along with the experiential training of shadowing experienced team members, are effective for all aspects of helping a customer select the right materials. For glazing products like Optium Museum Acrylic®, we have a policy for when to offer it in customer pieces.
The conversation about glazing choices begins when we talk to customers about the structure of the framing package. Is the art made with friable materials or is it fabric? How large is the piece and what kinds of concerns does the customer have with protecting it? Much like helping a customer understand the difference between protecting a piece from UV damage versus not, we also talk about whether glass or acrylic is best for the piece.
Because of our location and history of earthquakes in the San Francisco area, offering acrylic options is an important aspect of our sales process. Given the potential for damage, we strongly recommend Optium for pieces over 24″ x 36″. In general, the light weight of Optium is ideal for any large piece, and for our market it is a particularly wise choice.
We always use Optium for friable materials such as charcoal and pastels, as well as for framing fabrics. For pieces where the glazing needs to be up against the art, Optium is the preference given the higher condensation point versus glass. In fact, one of the show-and-tell tools I use with new employees is to compare a serving of iced tea from the cafe next door in a glass versus in a plastic container. Watching the condensation form on the glass is a great lesson in seeing is believing.
Optium Museum Acrylic is a more expensive option, but the product offers many benefits. Customers need to know what they are before deciding if it’s the right choice for their project. When you explain what a product like Optium Museum Acrylic can do for a piece, both in terms of protection as well as display, many customers chose it. In fact, when we offer to switch out standard glazing for premium in ready-made frames, some customers choose Optium Museum Acrylic over Museum Glass® because of those benefits.
My recent experience visiting museums in The Netherlands really illustrated the impact of choosing the right materials. At the Rijksmuseum, which recently reopened after a 10-year renovation project, Tru Vue worked with conservation and art experts to provide the best glazing to protect and display the amazing artwork in the museum’s collection. More than 100 pieces in the Rijksmuseum are framed with Optium Museum Acrylic, including drawings and etchings by Rembrandt, photographs and photograms by Man Ray, and some of the museums earliest engravings.
Experts at the Rijksmuseum, which draws millions of visitors each year, chose Optium Museum Acrylic for a variety of reasons, including its anti-static properties for friable materials, shatterproof and abrasion resistant properties for ease of handling and general protection, and light weight for ease of framing and hanging. But one of the most important features noted by many involved in the project was the product’s ability to bring visitors as close as possible to the images with its clarity. After all, being able to share these invaluable pieces with those who wish to appreciate them is one of the primary reasons places like the Rijksmuseum exist. For the purposes of study, education, and enjoyment of seeing the art, it is important to protect it but also make it clear and true for visitors.
During a visit to another museum on this trip, I saw a display that illustrated that benefit of Optium Museum Acrylic. Next to a piece framed with Optium Museum Acrylic was one framed with reflective glazing. The contrast was very apparent when seeing them side-by-side, much in the same way displays in our shop show customers the difference.
While certain custom framing needs call for the use of Optium Museum Acrylic, we consider it an important product to offer in our mix and ensure that all new employees understand when and how to recommend it to customers. After all, we want to make sure we are giving our customers our best when it comes to our expertise, as well as our products.
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This article is intended for educational purposes only and does not replace independent professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinion or position of Tru Vue or its employees. Tru Vue does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented.