Fresh Widow

Project title

Vibration-optimized transport and display of the work Fresh Widow


Mecklenburg-Vorpommern State Castles, Gardens and Art Collections, Schwerin, Germany


01-Jul-18 to 15-Mar-19

Museums involved

Staatliches Museum Schwerin

Staatsgalerie Stuttgart


Marcel Duchamp: Fresh Widow/Veuve récente/Frische Witwe, (1920) 1964 Model of a French window, wood painted turquoise, with panes of polished leather and glass, external dimensions: 79.5 x 53 x 10 cm Inscription: Marcel Duchamp 1964, on the base in black ink; Inscription: FRESH WIDOW COPYRIGHT RROSE SÉLAVY 1920, in uppercase; inscription: Marcel Duchamp 1964 4/8 FRESH WIDOW, 1920, EDITION GALERIE SCHWARZ. MILAN., on the back of the base on a brass plate, as facsimile etched handwriting. Owner: Mecklenburg-Vorpommern State Castles, Gardens and Art Collections


Minimization of the risk of damage by using vibration-optimized transport in a climate-controlled box to the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart and vibration-optimized presentation during the exhibition.


The object Fresh Widow is one of Marcel Duchamp's masterpieces, which is why it will be shown at the special exhibition Marcel Duchamp – 100 Questions. 100 Answers. from 23 November 2018 to 10 March 2019 together with another miniature window by the artist. However, the filigree hinges, the geometry and weight distribution (narrow frame, heavy lead glass windows) plus pre-existing damage mean that Fresh Widow is classified as an object with a very high risk of damage due to the effects of mechanical and dynamic forces. From an art history point of view, however, it is essential that the object should be presented in the said exhibition; the transport and display of the object must therefore be appropriately safe. To secure the object against vibrations and shocks during transport, a vibration-optimized crate was used that had been developed specially for the object, along with online monitoring of the mechanical loads during the outward and return transport. This makes it possible to reduce the resulting shocks and vibrations immediately by adapting the driving style. Visitor traffic during an exhibition makes floors vibrate and this causes the pedestals and showcases on them to vibrate too. These vibrations are finally transferred to the objects being displayed. In order to interrupt this mechanism when displaying Fresh Widow, a vibration-decoupled, standalone pedestal tailored to the object was used.

Project steps

A) Vibration-optimized transport

1. Inspection and geometric data capture of the object

2. Computer model of the object for eigenmode analysis \

3. Development of the transport crate on the PC

Computer model of crate plus object

4. Presentation of various solutions and consultations with the restorers

5. Construction of the crate, cooperating closely with specialist companies

6. Verification that the crate would work, using a dummy and vibration measurements during handling and drop tests

7. Vibration monitoring on the outward journey

8. Unpacking and analysis by restorers at the Staatsgalerie

9. Vibration monitoring on the return journey

10. Unpacking and analysis by restorers at the Staatliches Museum Schwerin

B) Vibration-optimized display

1. Metrological determination of the vibration behaviour of the floor of the exhibition hall

2. Design of the vibration isolation; pedestal design in close cooperation with the exhibition architect

3. Installation of elastic elements and pedestal in the exhibition area

4. Metrological verification of the effectiveness of the vibration-decoupled platform with a dummy installed

Metrological inspection of the vibration-isolated pedestal

5. Installation of the Object 


The object Fresh Widow returned to the Staatliche Museum Schwerin without further damage.


• Presentation at the PACCIN conference on 12-Apr-2019 in Amsterdam

People involved

Petra Kruse (restorer, Staatliches Museum, Schwerin)

Katja van Wetten (restorer, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart)

Dr Kerstin Kracht

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