Dallmeier system keeps watch on world-class ceramics
A Dallmeier CCTV system has been installed to protect ceramic treasures from London's V&A Museum during the Syrian stage of a world tour.The Victoria & Albert Museum London has sent a repertory of major ceramics from its holdings on an international touring exhibition. During its stay in Syria a Dallmeier surveillance system secures the art treasures. In cooperation with the company Technolead, the experts from the installer firm OCS managed to meet the demanding requirements for that system. The demand was for a high-quality surveillance that would, at the same time, adhere to the strict provisions for the protection of historic sites that are in effect at the venue.
The system uses Dallmeier DF3000A-DN cameras and a DMS 240 recorder. V&A Security Manager Dave Flipping was aware of the capabilities of the Dallmeier product as the recorders and cameras are already used in the V&A in London.
The major international touring exhibition, World Ceramics: Masterpieces from the V&A took place in Syria from 24 November 2008 to 8 January 2009 as the finale to the Damascus Arab Capital of Culture 2008 activities. It groups together internationally-important original ceramics ahead of their display in the V&A’s refurbished ceramics galleries, which will reopen in September 2009. Other places on the tour include Seoul, Düsseldorf and Istanbul.
The V&A has the world's largest ceramics collection. Its holdings range from ancient Egyptian artefacts and early examples of Chinese porcelain to contemporary studio pottery and industrially-designed ceramics. The touring exhibition showcases 116 treasures from the renowned collection, including historic and rare items that had not been seen outside the V&A since their acquisition.
World Ceramics: Masterpieces from the V&A explores the history of international ceramics from 3000 BC to the present day and highlights the links between the world’s ceramic traditions, including showing how international trade and cultural exchange spread the technologies, styles and usage.
The display in Syria, which was sponsored by Shell (Syria), was housed at Khan As‘ad Basha in the heart of Old Damascus. It is one of the most beautiful historical buildings in Damascus and is a striking example of 18th-century Syrian architecture, built by a powerful governor of Damascus, As’ad Pasha al-‘Azm, to house merchants involved in long-distance trade. The V&A points out that this made it an appropriate setting for an exhibition that reflects the transmission of objects and ideas along trade routes. ”The exhibition shows how much different parts of the world learned from each other in earlier times” said V&A Director Mark Jones.
Khan As‘ad Basha was built in 1752 and the largest of the caravanserais, which provided lodgings and places of work for the merchants and storage for their goods. Its rooms are arranged in several stories around a central courtyard, which is covered by nine domes. The walls are a particularly striking aspect, as they are built of striped masonry and consist of alternate courses of black basalt and white limestone.
The prestigious exhibition was the driver for installation of a sophisticated CCTV network to keep watch over the exhibits, though the system is to remain in place after the exhibition moves on to its next location.
OCS worked in partnership with Technolead, Dallmeier’s partners in Syria. The team was awarded the contract partly as OCS is already the security provider for the V&A. “It was felt that we knew what was required,” says OCS Security Systems Corporate Development Director Roger Noakes.
Khan As‘ad Basha is regarded as one of the most important buildings in Syria and strict limitations were imposed. Installing a CCTV system could not be allowed to cause any damage. “Our brief was to install the system without making any screw holes or clipping any cables,” recalls Mr Noakes.
The demanding requirement led OCS and Technolead to devise an innovative mounting solution based on a clamping assembly around the columns, which avoided any damage to the stonework. That approach allowed the camera mounts to be fixed to the clamps rather than to the columns themselves.
Mr Noakes visited Khan As‘ad Basha initially with Mr Flipping to assess the location and design the CCTV system, with the decision taken to specify Dallmeier. Mr Flipping was already very familiar with the quality of Dallmeier equipment, which has been in use at the V&A for about five years. The cameras produce first-class images even in difficult lighting and the recorders are extremely high quality and easy to operate as they are very quick to search through the images.
The Dallmeier DF3000A-DN cameras contain Dallmeier’s Cam_inPIX® technology, which converts the picture information of each individual pixel digitally at the point of capture and processes it in the most optimal way. This allows high picture quality, even for situations with a great range in contrast.
The DMS 240 is a stand-alone hybrid audio and video recorder with up to 24 channels, which adds the latest features to proven Dallmeier specifications.
OCS bought the equipment from Dallmeier and used a specialist company for the shipping to ensure that would arrive in time. The British Consulate helped expedite with the complex procedures involved in shipping security items into Syria, which would normally take three months.
The installation was carried out during a temporary closure of Khan As‘ad Basha for preparation of the exhibition. Mr Noakes spent time on site at the beginning of the contract, agreeing the procedures with Technolead, which carried out the installation. “We only had access for two weeks and everything had to be installed within that time,” he says. Commissioning of the system was carried out by OCS and Mr Flipping, and the system was successfully handed over while the cabinets were being completed ready for the arrival of the exhibits from their previous visit to Germany.