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World's First Cemetery Museum Turns to MEDITE MDF for Feature Wall

  • 14.01.2011
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Using 18mm thick MEDITE MDF and CNC machine code from software specialists Alphacam, the development and prototypes were completed in two weeks, with the lettering being machined to millimetre perfection in just 14 hours.

Forming part of the “City of the Dead” exhibition at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin, the 12 metre long wall respectfully bears just some of the inscriptions, tributes and epitaphs found on the headstones from the graves of the 1.7 million people buried at Glasnevin.

For the exhibition, the Glasnevin Trust originally considered having the chosen wording cut into stone or granite by a mason, but after research showed it would be too expensive and would take too long to complete, exhibition design specialists Martello Media turned to Dublin-based Display Contracts International for a solution. Using 18mm thick MEDITE MDF and CNC machine code from software specialists Alphacam, the development and prototypes were completed in two weeks, with the lettering being machined to millimetre perfection in just 14 hours.

For such intricate and detailed work, Display Contracts International needed the chosen MDF to be manufactured using high quality wood fibre and be FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified. MEDITE MDF not only met but exceeded the criteria, with all MDF from MEDITE since January 2010 also being CARB 2 compliant – a new ‘best in class' regulation from California restricting formaldehyde emissions, which xcontributes to a ‘healthier' building environment. Managing director Jim O'Brien says they looked at several types of timber and finishes for the project, before opting for black lacquered MEDITE MDF. “To replicate the headstone look, we needed the finished product to have a black background, with an etched appearance to the lettering, which, when you see it on stone, is always lighter. To achieve this effect the panels were pre-lacquered before running through the CNC machine. Normally we would do the cutting before the lacquering – this was a completely different approach, it's the first time we've ever done anything like this, but both Martello Media and the Glasnevin Trust were absolutely bowled over by how authentic the end result looks”.

A number of stone masons have said the wall is as good as if it had been cut in stone, if not better, as it has absolutely no flaws. Jim O'Brien says that was achieved because he worked closely on the cutting process with Alphacam area manager Michael Pettit. “In particular, we spent a long time ensuring we got the tools to drop and rise at different angles to produce an authentic ‘V' chiseled effect”.

Leading exhibition contractor, Display Contracts International has worked with Martello before and was the natural choice to provide the solution for this unique and challenging project. Their core business is designing, fabricating and installing purpose built exhibition stands across Europe, and it was their ability to understand structure and graphics which led Display Contracts International into providing semi-permanent and permanent exhibits for ‘interpretive centres'; new style museum exhibitions such as the Glasnevin Museum.

Geoff Rhodes, marketing and business development director, Coillte Panel Products said, “As part of Coillte Panel Products, MEDITE MDF is produced in Ireland and its entire range is FSC certified. For use in the UK and across Europe, the product travels far fewer miles than other options which might be considered. Coupled with its FSC certification, MEDITE MDF continues to deliver a unique combination of high quality and sustainability”.

The cemetery is Ireland's national necropolis and many of the country's greatest patriots, leaders, artists and writers are buried there, along with hundreds of thousands of ordinary men, women and children. The interpretive centre, a concept which is gaining popularity at natural or culturally significant sites, was created at Glasnevin to celebrate their lives as part of a major restoration of the whole cemetery.