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The Minerva Head

Housed at the Roman Bath museum is the guilt bronze head of the goddess Sulis Minerva, one of the best known objects from Roman Britain.

The Roman Baths in Somerset is one of the finest historic sites in Northern Europe and attracts around one million visitors every year and recently completed the first phase of a multi-million pound redevelopment.

"The Minerva head is probably from the cult statue of the goddess which would have stood within her Temple beside the Sacred Spring. From there she may have looked out across the Temple courtyard to the site of the great altar, the site of sacrifice, which stood at the heart of that sacred space. The statue may well be an original object from the foundation of the site in the later first century AD, which means that it was probably well over 300 years old when it met its demise.

The head is slightly larger than life size, suggesting that the original statue was an imposing sight. Examination of the head has revealed that it has six layers of gilding. The first two use a technique known as fire gilding whilst the four later layers are applied as gold leaf.

For our designers at ClickNetherfield, the project was small but somewhat intricate. It involved one main showcase that housed the Minerva Head. The showcase included low-reflective glass which has a coating applied to the glass at the production stage; this coating reduces reflection from 8% with normal glass to less than 1% providing superb clarity of the ancient object on display.

This project also required active humidity control since the conditions inside the case needed to be significantly different from the ambient. The complex system that we provided is able to support a narrow humidity range of +/- 3%. We also supplied the all-important alarm system to ensure the priceless artefact remains completely protected within the busy museum.

However, one of the most important factors to consider in presenting the Minerva Head in all her glory was lighting - up lights in warm white and blue down lights were designed for effect. We completed lighting tests at our factory in Livingston and both client and designer spent time with us to get this element exactly right. As a result, the case and artefact look exquisite with a lot of time and effort put into up front testing by all the teams involved. "

One of the most important factors to consider in presenting the Minerva Head in all her glory was lighting


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Exhibition fact file

What's Inside

The guilt bronze head of the goddess Sulis Minerva from the cult statue of the goddess which would have stood within her Temple beside the Sacred Spring

Museum

The Roman Bath Museum

Date

March 2014

Cases Used

Vision with bespoke plinth and supports