The business of art: “Present, preserve and protect in an invisible way”

“We make impossible demands a reality: we ensure impeccable conditions and safety, while remaining invisible as much as possible.” Meyvaert, a Ghent-based company, is an international market leader in high-end museum display cases. The most famous art in the world’s most renowned museums is displayed in their showcases.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi. The new museum for the Benin Bronzes (which will soon return to Africa). The House of European History in Brussels’ European quarter. The prestigious renovation of the Antwerp Museum of Fine Arts. The world-famous Ghent Altarpiece (Lam Gods, painted by the Van Eyck brothers). The National Air & Space Museum in Washington. The Burrell Collection in Glasgow and Musée de Cluny in Paris. “These are all recent projects of Meyvaert”, explain CEO Steven De Tollenaere and managing director Stijn Verstraete.

Meyvaert is an experienced family-owned business. Since a couple of decades, they use their knowledge to produce glass display cases. Today, they have evolved into a technological company. Engineers and technicians concentrate on aiming for the best possible solutions. “We work in the highest niche, where top-notch architects design the museums. They have very high demands, and we try to fulfil those as well as possible.”

This can range from the Ghent Altarpiece, housed in a huge structure with a stable interior temperature and humidity (whatever the weather conditions), to the original famous Anne Frank diary in Amsterdam, which needs to be protected against vibrations and humidity.

“We mostly work with local suppliers and subcontractors, who deliver high quality. We train our technicians ourselves and then send them all across the world.”

Many can make a museum display case, but Meyvaert concentrates on the high-end. Designing the best solution requires the best raw materials and highly trained technicians.

“We mostly work with local suppliers and subcontractors, who deliver high quality. We train our technicians ourselves and then send them all across the world.”

Meyvaert starts from the design or concept presented by the architect, transposes this into an engineering process, and takes the assembly and installation completely into its own hands. This way, the demands of the museum and the concept of the architect are fully respected. Some hundred people work for the company in order to achieve this.

Their market is booming, with for example high ambitions in several Middle Eastern countries and other countries which want to attract more tourism. But the demands, too, are ever higher. France, for instance, is very strict when it comes to protecting its prestigious pieces of art.

Besides the production of display cases, Meyvaert can also work as a contractor for the complete installation of a museum. They did this, for example, for the Antwerp KMSK and the Brussels House of European History. In those cases, the company coordinated the design and installation of video walls, furniture, and so on.

Meyvaert’s expertise lies in presentation, preservation and protection. This has to be done ‘as invisibly as possible’. The art lover comes to enjoy the art and should not be hindered by the display cases.

This article is the third of a 3-part series on art and money.






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