The position and layout of the exhibits in the museum are an integral part of the design. The plaster or ash-panel walls of the ground-floor galleries, displaying the Medieval period, appear solid and castle-like, with niches for the display of exhibits, many of which are relatively small-sized (near right). The upper floors, dedicated to later periods such as the Industrial Revolution, house larger exhibits (such as the paper-making machine, far right) in free-standing glazed display cases. The 300-plus glazed display cases in the museum were made by Glasbau Hahn.
The cases had to fulfil the environmental requirements of 0.25 air changes an hour and a dust-free interior.They also had to provide integral lighting and allow easy access with high security.
The ground-floor display cases are set into walls faced with panels of 17mm ash-veneered mdf. They are mounted on 15mm ply backing with 6m shadow- gap joints betweeen them. The panels overlap the case to hide the frame and operating mechanism. Each case has an individual steel-frame support system which rests on the floor and is fixed back to the concrete walls. One panel above the case is hinged to give access to the fibre-optic lighting projector box.
The 9.5mm toughened-glass front panels are set on paired tracks - fixed on the outer track and sliding open on the inner track. The track and operating mechanisms are concealed by the ash panelling.
The paper-making machine is housed in a free-standing case over 5m long, glazed on all sides. The case takes the form of 'goalpost' steel supports, set in from the glass, of composite hollow sections which carry the fibre- optic lighting conduit.