Conservation and Restoration of Fine Furniture and Objects
Windows to Another World:
What We Talk About When We Talk About Display Cases
by Abra Adduci
Mother Cabrini shoes displayed at Cabrini Shrine in Chicago




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The display cabinet is humble. Modest in stature, it holds no candle to a baroque chaise or Barcelona chair. Plain, sturdy, intentionally unremarkable, it inspires no awe. Hinged doors open. They close. At first glance, that’s about it.

At second glance, there’s much more.

The display cabinet also serves function, despite a meek façade. Display cabinets imbue contents with prominence and elevate items to artifacts. Like a podium in a lecture hall, their stature spells importance. Windows whisper “look within.” Display cabinets are simple for a reason. They let the subject do the talking.

In 2012, Bernacki & Associates conserved, restored, preserved, and displayed artifacts of “Mother Cabrini" – the first US Citizen Saint, including address books, personal notations, writing instruments, and the rocking chair where she died. Working under aura of peace and unity, the team created archival units rivaling those of any museum. As a first-hand witness, I can attest the results are spectacular: The shrine’s arrangement is in harmonic accord. The display cases are elegantly understated. The gloss of their finish and whorl of their wooden pedestals homage to artifacts exhibited and - as intended – the artifacts do the storytelling.

Read the full version ofWindows to Another World” in the Conservation & Design International Newsletter

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