Rediscovering a Lost Gold Mine
Inaugurated in May 2019, the Goldkammer Museum is in the heart of Frankfurt, near the Alte Oper subway stop, and it is like an underground temple to the history of gold. The project was by merz merz, a young architectural practice, with the interior design for this gold chamber overseen by barth in conjunction with Lehm Ton Erde, which specializes in clay and earth creations. These materials are central elements in the museum’s display tunnels, where each little niche, display stand and window is custom-made to house 500 carefully selected pieces that explore the history, symbolism and economic importance of gold. Starting from the elegant foyer - where barth designed the shiny main counter, cupboards and shelves - each museum environment draws the visitor through a stunning route in which materials were carefully chosen in different compositions that, even by themselves, offer original narrative suggestions. The beauty of the objects on display in the underground galleries is further exalted through the careful use of light, transparency and contrast with the stone and clay walls. These materials create the illusion of being in a mine, while also cleverly ensuring constant humidity levels for the displays. The exhibition areas are quite small, with the crown jewel undoubtedly the Rothschild collection of 300 standard gold bars in a space clad with rammed earth. Despite the size, the strategic use of light creates a sense of space, while also highlighting the splendid gold pieces in the niches and wall-mounted, floor-mounted and free-standing display cases. This charming use of light is also central to the effect in the room housing the treasures from the Atocha wreckage, although the walls here are neither earth nor clay. Instead, the clever use of the transparency of the glass display cases, created by barth, and the reflections these produce on the light blue walls create the sensation the items are floating on waves.
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