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Museum Glass® is the secret to this beautiful coin shadowbox!

By David Lantrip, Industry Expert

The main purpose of glazing is to provide protection to the artwork. Some of the things glazing provides protection against include:


  • Soiling and pollution
  • UV damage
  • Physical damage



Our glazing choices usually take these into account, along with the customer’s needs and requests, such as the desire to reduce reflections. Another aspect, one that we usually don’t give a lot of thought to, is glazing’s role as a design element. Thinking of it as not just a protective element, but as another part of the framing to manipulate and use creatively allows us to present the artwork in new and interesting ways.



In this example, multiple layers of Museum Glass® were used to create a multi-layered, overlapping and dimensional presentation to coins, the sort of object that is usually thought of as essentially two-dimensional. Normally these would be laid out flat on a background, perhaps in neat rows or in carefully planned randomness. Either option works nicely, but adding a third dimension can bring a new depth and dimension to the framing of coins or similar objects. And it leaves your customer wondering how in the world you pulled off this bit of magic. Museum Glass is the secret.



This design uses three layers of Museum Glass and three frames. The first two lites of Museum Glass are the same size and are separated with a spacer, with the first coins mounted to the inner layer. The two lites and coins are placed between the outer and middle frame. A third lite, also with coins mounted to it, is held in place between the middle and innermost frame. Finally, a third grouping of coins is mounted on a black silk mat in the inside frame.


The biggest challenge presented was the placement of the coins. It took “dry fitting” the frames and glazing together, minus the front lite of glass, and a bit of trial and error placing the coins to achieve a pleasing arrangement with just enough overlap to be interesting without obscuring any. Mounting was another challenge. Mounting to glass ruled out the usual mechanical attachments, such as Mylar. A compromise was reached with a pH-neutral, water-soluble adhesive. It was the “least bad” choice available for these common coins which will never be sold.



It was mentioned earlier that Museum Glass is the secret to this design’s success, and that is due to its anti-reflective properties. With any other glazing choice (other than Optium® or Optium Museum Acrylic®) the reflections from multiple lites would have almost completely obscured the coins. The exceptional clarity and lack of reflections help create the illusion that the coins are magically floating in mid-air.



The coins in this shadowbox are just one example of how anti-reflective glazing can be used to create something that transcends a float mount; we might call it a “levitating” mount. Other objects that would benefit from a design like this might include:


  • Postcards
  • Paper currency
  • Concert tickets
  • Campaign buttons
  • Casino chips



Almost anything relatively flat and without too much depth could be presented this way, and once you start thinking about it, more and more ideas will pop up. Perhaps mirror for the last layer instead of the mat? Maybe drilling Optium Acrylic to mount an object and float it above the background layer? What would you like to try?

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.

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