Exhibited in the French Pavilion which was specially designed and built for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo were seven famous masterpieces flown to Shanghai from France with the special approval of the French government for this prestigious grand event.
The exhibits were Miller’s L'Angélus (1857-1859); Édouard Manet’s Balcony (1868-1869); Vincent Van Gogh's Al ballroom (1888); Paul Gauguin’s The Meal (1891); Paul Cézanne’s La Femme à la cafetière; Piere Bonnard’s La Loge (1908); and Auguste Rodin’s The Age of Bronze.
“To enable millions of visitors to appreciate these precious works at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo and provide a favorable exhibition environment for the exhibits, the French Pavilion was built with the highest standard specified by the Haute Quality Environnementale (HQE) certificate and in accordance with prevailing international standards on exhibits in large museums as well as existing safety standards.”
---- Guy Cogeval, Curator of Orsay Museum
The French Pavilion, which is aptly described as the “Floating White Palace”, is teeming with futuristic colors and surrounded by the beauty of rhythmic water flow. An escalator takes visitors to the top-level of the main exhibition hall where the exhibition area starts on a ramp, continues towards a descent, and then returns back to the starting point.
It is this innovative architectural design that provided us with a new challenge. Exhibit cases were laid out at exactly 36.152m in length and designed to be placed on a gradient of 3.9 degrees. The exhibit cases stretched along the descent. The dividing lines of all glass panels and the rear dressing panels of the cases had to be vertical against the ground level.
Showcases were designed into 22 separate units, and every other two units were used for exhibit display. Schott Amiran anti-reflective glass was used for the exhibit units and extraclear glass for the other cases. This combination of materials and construction methods helped to achieve the visual appeal of the exhibits and effectively controlled the cost of fabrication and installation. Showcases were 3,905mm in height, and the top lighting header was concealed within the top.
Besides glass, only steel and aluminum alloy were allowed for the fabrication of the display cases. Aluminum honeycomb compound plates imported from Canada were used to fabricate the rear structural panels and the bottom plates with ICI aqueous metallic paint finish. A 3mm thick armor plate in steel was installed at the back of the structural panels of the cases so as to prevent damage to the exhibits by electric tools or physical intrusion from outside the building.