It is every museum worker’s dream: to make a spectacular discovery in your own collection. Yet, that is precisely what happened to curators at Museum Catharijneconvent when they selected the painting The Crucifixion (c. 1425) by the Master of the Lindau Lamentation for the Body Language exhibition. On the face of it, it wasn’t an obvious choice. It hung in the back for years, low on a rack and in the dark. The composition was hidden under a layer of yellowed varnish and surface dirt. Little wonder that it had escaped everyone’s notice until this moment.
A partial cleaning brought the unique value of the Gothic panel to light. To finance the complete restoration of the artwork for the Body Language exhibition, the museum curated the focus exhibition Verborgen Parel / Hidden Gem. In our design, we used the story of the discovery in order to let visitors experience this small miracle themselves.
Like the curators discovered The Crucifixion in the depot, visitors find the painting lit by a moving searchlight in a darkened refectory. As the beam is directed towards the panel, it narrows to a tight illuminatory dot, targeting the unique details while a voice-over explains their meaning. We placed the artwork behind a purple curtain. Textile applications represent the halos of Christ, Mary, and John, as well as the drops of blood of Christ.