After four years of design, planning, and construction, one of the most modern museums in Europe opened its doors on 25 May 2019: Museum Goldkammer in Frankfurt. The greatest architectural challenge in Frankfurt’s Westend was display the fascinating world of gold in an extremely confined space. The exhibition designers created an expressive layout for more than 500 gold artefacts from different eras of the past 6,000 years, developing a spectacular sequence of underground galleries and treasure chambers on a total area of only 480 square metres. 

The museum, which was specifically built for these rare exhibits – and virtually around them – is found under a historically listed town villa. The journey to the underground exhibition rooms begins in the foyer and continues with a ride in a themed elevator, which creates the feeling of travelling deep below the earth’s surface. Slowing down and animating the ride gives the impression of being transported several hundred metres down into a mine tunnel. Once having arrived at the bottom, the contrast to the world above with the extraordinary marble floors immediately catches the eye – both light and colours are used only sparingly in the chambers. 

Here, the rooms are dominated by four natural materials: clay, bronze, marble, and stone. Due to the special structural requirements, the architectural office created many small exhibition spaces, which appear more spacious than they actually are, due to a sophisticated lighting system. Concealed linear light profiles imitate incident daylight, while discreetly placed lighting accents create a mysterious and suspenseful atmosphere. The exhibits themselves unfold their full radiance in warm white LED light from track-mounted spotlights with highest colour rendering properties. The wall showcases are fitted with miniature spotlights that highlight the exhibits and accentuate them in a glare-free manner.

The experience is accompanied by numerous animated display boards and videos designed by the project’s media planners. At various digital stations along a gold vein on the ground, the visitor learns interesting facts about the precious metal. Markers embedded in the floor are accentuated by very 

narrow beam recessed ceiling spotlights and reveal information when scanned with a smartphone. In addition, the room texts are projected onto the walls from a total of 18 gobo projectors.

The lighting design underlines the dramatic composition of the innovated exhibition concept by emphasizing the valuable exhibits with integrated lighting elements in an unobtrusive yet emphatic manner. The above-ground rooms of the two-storey building, for which the lighting designers have developed a custom pendant luminaire, invite visitors to linger in the “Aureus Café”, a day bar and restaurant.

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