How to Project and Display Chagall’s Opera of Paris Masterpiece: Inside Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ Dilemma

For its Chagall: Colour and Music exhibit, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts set out to present the artist’s work of art on the Opera of Paris ceiling and ultimately turned to a Strong/MDI screen solution.

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How to Project and Display Chagall’s Opera of Paris Masterpiece: Inside Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ Dilemma

When projecting Chagall's Opera of Museum masterpiece Montreal Museum of Fine Arts deemed it important that the display appear to be part of the exhibit.

It wouldn’t be possible to move the Opera of Paris ceiling over 3,000 miles to display artist Chagall’s masterpiece in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts for its Chagall: Colour and Music exhibit which closed on June 13.

So the museum did the next best thing: It projected the artwork onto a display that recreates the transcendent ceiling.

However, that task wasn’t taken lightly. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts sought a solution that would allow both the projection and display to be as true as possible to the colors and details of Chagall’s work.

There were variables to consider – ambient light, the richness of the artwork and the plan to display content on both sides of the surface.   The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts ultimately chose a translucent off-white Studioview screen by Strong/MDI in part because it’s able to handle both front and rear projection.

In the end, the museum elected not to project on both sides of the surface, says Strong/MDI account manager, pro AV, Patrick Bouchard, and instead only used rear projection. Still, the characteristics of the Studioview proved valuable.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts also used a Strong/MDI Domino frame to recreate the ceiling as it appears in the Opera of Paris.

CI asked Bouchard about how Strong/MDI Studioview screen and Domino frame helped Montreal Museum of Fine Arts overcome its distinctive challenges:

This is a unique project. Can you describe the initial conversations and request from the customer?

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts contacted us directly for a circular frame and dual projection screen to display Chagall’s work of art on the Opera of Paris ceiling.

The appearance of the frame and projection surface is of utmost importance in a museum setting.

Having worked with us before, they knew we could quickly find a solution to this custom request and provide the technical resources to help them design it.

For the client, it was important that the screen be part of the [exhibit] and not only a display medium. The appearance of the frame and projection surface is of utmost importance in a museum setting.

Not only do visitors see the content up close, color rendering must be true to the original.

Why was the translucent Studioview the appropriate type of screen to use in this situation?

Studioview performs equally well in front projection or rear projection. In addition, the surface had the most suitable optical properties to display Chagall’s piece in conjunction with the projector being used and within the specific viewing environment.

Beyond the physical challenges of the application, there are also big video challenges when tasked with accurately displaying an artist’s work and use of colors.

Studioview amplifies color saturation while maintaining contrast, making it the ideal surface to display Chagall’s colorful piece.

[Editor’s note: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts adds that the projection of the ceiling of the Opéra de Paris, in the Palais Garnier, has been developed by Google lab and Google Art Project in Paris, in partnership with the Opéra national de Paris.]

Why was the Domino Frame chosen to create the shape of the ceiling?

Strong/MDI’s Domino frame is one of the most versatile framing solutions available. Its weight-to-load capacity is very efficient; sections can be curved to create shapes of any size or diameter without any loss of strength. In addition to being lightweight, Domino frames are very easy to assemble and many attachment options are available.

There must have been some challenges in working with the customer on such a unique project. What were some of those and how were you able to deliver the right solutions to the customer?

The client needed a dual projection surface to accurately display an art piece for close viewing, a sturdy circular frame as well as an anchoring system that would give the impression that the piece was floating. Not only did the piece need to be at a specific angle, the tie lines also had to be invisible. The client felt this was important given that the original piece was created on a ceiling.

Strong/MDI thrives on challenging projects and many screen requests are characterized by special demands. Our engineers and mechanical designers quickly find solutions to these challenges, we provide technical support from beginning to end.

Our aim is to find solutions that are affordable and easy for the client.