The new Egyptian Gallery, part of the Susan B. and Mark A. Susz Galleries at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, provides a permanent home for the exquisite funerary objects of the Ancient Egyptian noblewoman Meretites. The gilt sarcophagus of Meretites stands upright drawing visitors into a gallery space, which is calm, reflective and reverent to the nature of the collection.
In addition to a complete renovation of architectural finishes, lighting and new casework, the scope of work also included comprehensive life safety and mechanical system upgrades. The exterior walls of the Nelson-Atkins Building, which define the galleries were bolstered with new insulation and a moisture barrier helping to preserve the collection and improve the performance of the Museum’s operations.
The design of new Egyptian Gallery features clean, modern details, which place emphasis on the collection itself. The walls are finished in a dark colored Venetian plaster; an antique bronze detail articulates the extents of the plaster wall, framing both stone trim and glass casework. BNIM worked closely with the Museum’s Exhibition Design Staff and Italian fabricators to develop casework that could accommodate the extreme conservation requirements of the collection and maintain a high degree of transparency.
The gallery ceiling is a modern interpretation of the coffered ceilings found throughout the original building; gallery lighting and mechanical devices are integrated into the saw-tooth profile of the ceiling. While the layout of walls and highly transparent casework impart the feeling of an open floor plan, the ceiling creates two distinct volumes of space.