Moving pictures: Montel’s vibration-free sliding art racks for the Clyfford Still Museum

Come see how Montel's vibration-free sliding art racks brought art to life at the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, Colorado.
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Montel recently finished work on two sliding art rack storage systems for the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, Colorado, an institution honoring and preserving the work of the eponymous American painter who stood at the forefront of the abstract expressionist movement in the late 1940s.

With more than 800 paintings in need of innovative racking – as well as letters, sketchbooks and other materials belonging to the artist – Montel designed and installed custom storage solutions that achieve a perfect balance between efficiency, usefulness and conservation.

“Oversized sliding racks ensure no painting is too big to store.”

High art calls for high-capacity storage
Still’s larger-than-life paintings are a sight to behold, but their size also makes them tricky to store properly. While the museum sought hardware that protected its collection, Montel knew larger items leave storage systems more vulnerable to wasted space. That said, three features in Montel’s unique hanging systems both condensed the museum’s storage footprint and safeguarded the integrity of the paintings therein.

First, oversized sliding racks ensure no painting is too big to store. Next, all installed art racks are double-sided, effectively increasing storage potential twofold. Moreover, double-sided art panels safeguard both the fronts and the backs of paintings.

Finally, the metal mesh facades allow museum curators and staff to securely hang paintings as they wish instead of conforming to the restrictions of more cramped traditional offerings. Since each side of the art rack has its own dedicated mesh surface, hanging on one side won’t hinder hanging on the other.

Vibration-free storage keeps art alive and in check
Art lovers may squirm at the initial idea of sliding art racks. After all, isn’t it dangerous to place such masterpieces on storage that moves?

Montel took these concerns to heart when it engineered its vibration-free sliding art racks. Each rack runs on ball-bearing wheels as well as other anti-tip technology designed to keep rack’s movement steady and completely perpendicular to the floor. Additionally, each storage system comes with safety hooks the secure suspension of stored objects.

“Proper storage plays an integral role in art preservation.”

Preservation requires ventilation
Although paintings – and indeed all forms of art – are more than the sum of their parts, curators must address how paint, canvas and wood ages to preserve the life of their collection for generations to come. That means a constant battle against changing pigmentation, cracking paint and other such degradation. And while much of the upkeep happens in the conservator’s studio, proper storage also plays an integral role in art preservation.

Montel evenly spaces art racks in a given installation to prevent bumping and scraping between panels, as well as encourage a storage environment that breathes and works well with museum ventilation systems.

Users need art racks to make their work easier
Considering the size and weight of Still’s largest paintings, any storage system holding them must be sturdy enough to adequately hold the entire collection without compromise.

That said, curators and museum staff also need sliding art racks to help on-site operations by functioning intuitively when their daily duties include:

  • Carrying pieces between storage spaces and showrooms.
  • Transporting artwork to/from conservator studios.
  • Loading/unloading paintings before/after tours.
  • Rearranging paintings in the storage area to accommodate an expanding collection

Montel’s moveable screens are known the world over as the smoothest sliding art racks in the industry. A single user can operate the installation’s heaviest rack without assistance and without jeopardizing the safety of the stored artwork. As such, institutions like the Clyfford Still Museum spend less time dealing with storage and more time attending to their collections.

Beautiful storage for beautiful art
Efficiency, user-friendliness and capacity aside, a public storage space – like the one patrons experience upon visiting the Clyfford Still Museum – ought to also be aesthetically pleasing as well. Museum Director Dean Sobel thinks Montel sliding art racks make for the perfect backdrop for Still’s body of work.

We defer to Mr. Sobel’s judgment and good taste. Obviously, we’re a little biased.

What do you think? Check out our latest video and decide for yourself.

We would like to thank Mr. Sobel and the rest of the Clyfford Still Museum staff for their participation, as well as their Authorized Montel Distributor for managing the project.

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