Hi all, I am wondering about general thoughts on the use of magnets for permanent display. A client has suggested using sheet magnet for holding light ephemera and it makes me woozy, maybe because I have not used magnets much? I know there are the specifics of weight of object and type of magnet, but any general thoughts? This is "permanent" display. Thanks! Beth
We use rare earth magnets often for some textiles that don't weigh a lot.
Beth, I've been using magnets for years with great success. I have several sizable wall cases in which the back panels are held to the back of the case with large magnets (3" dia. x 1/2" thick). The magnets are mounted to the back of the wall case and the display panels have 1/4" thick x 3" square steel plates mounted on their back side that are aligned with the magnets. This system allows for quick changeovers in our temporary galleries. I can prep a new panel with mounts etc and switch out in very short order with out fasteners of any kind. The real beauty of this is speed of installation which isn't really a factor in your more permanent situation.
Concerning weight and strength, I used a setup that offers a 20% safety margin and was able to dismiss that woozy feeling and sleep at night.
One other thought: None of the artifacts on display in my cases are steel or alloys of steel. My over active imagination could foresee a display of steel knives for example. Over several months on display they might become magnetized. When it comes time to de-install them I wouldn't want them to "jump together" while resting side by side on the Rubbermaid cart! I don't really know if imparting a magnetic field into a steel artifact would do it any lasting harm but a metals conservator might have an opinion on the matter.
Best of luck,
Christopher Harrison Dumbarton Oaks Museum Trustees for Harvard University 1703 32nd Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20007
We have used magnets to hang textiles making sure that we had a safe way release the art when we deinstall.
This is a good article on the use of magnets for art work:
Philip Brutz Mount Maker Exhibition Production The Cleveland Museum of Art 11150 East Boulevard Cleveland, Ohio 44106-1797
T 216-707-2617 F 216-707-6687
8/9/13I think I would look at your situation from a slightly different point of view. I would want to ask the question of whether a pressure mount is appropriate for the object on long term display? Magnets form a pressure mount that is very tight and not really adjustable other than through the use of paddings. Using magnets as individual points of support applies a point load and does not necessarily support the adjacent parts of the object. This can lead to scalloping and distortion of the object, depending on its structural stability. These are not necessarily problems, just things that should be considered about how the support behaves and the needs of the object.
The Santa Fe ex