Cradle of Christianity: Jewish and Christian Treasures from the Holy Land was created to show how the Jewish and early Christan communities influenced each other and to highlight the similarities in their values, faith, communities, and politics.
The 9,800-sq.-ft. exhibit, drawn from a show at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, includes 138 artifacts on Biblical archaeology dating from 1AD through 300 AD. The objects are simple, so the design team’s goal was to organize them and their accompanying information in a clear, interesting way that complemented them and enhanced their importance.
The exhibition is organized by storyline woven through eight galleries, with a traffic flow that is linear and chronological. The first cases are in random arrangements, reflecting the informal nature of the birth of Christianity. Artifacts of Jewish and Christian faith are compared in specific groupings to highlight commonalities and differences.
Each gallery is identified by a title presented on freestanding panels, and objects are identified with labels, providing a consistent graphic delivery that moves guests through the space and the multi-layered information. The team devised a unique text panel system of crumpled Tyvex that looks like parchment but is more durable. Text was printed on stone imagery and straightened for enhanced texture.
All the exhibition casework, finishes, and graphic digital ink were specified with VOC-free materials that are healthier for the guests as well as the objects. All casework will be used for future exhibitions.
“The restrained approach to the exhibition display furniture and showcases places the aesthetic appreciation of the object at center stage. A sophisticated color palette and refined lighting solution further enhance the object display. Photomurals and figurative illustrations reinforce key messages. Interpretive materials—titles, quotes, text panels, illustrations, and labels—have a clear hierarchy and I appreciate their brevity and legibility. An innovative use of Tyvek offers a unique stone- or parchment-like texture for text panels.”
Charlie McMillan (principal in charge), Nancy McMillan, David Mevorah, Nancy Roberts
Virginia Museum Services (fabrication and installation project manager), Kearney and Associates (exhibit fabrication), Michael C. Carlos Museum