Custom Glass Illuminates Museum of African American History & Culture

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The Contemplative Court, one of the key attractions at the new National Museum of African American History and Culture, features a one-of-a-kind, copper-bronze Bendheim architectural glass. Developed and produced exclusively for the museum, the metallic glass creates a sense of luminosity and warmth, contributing to the serenity and elegance of the space.

As the latest addition to the National Mall, the new museum pays homage to African American art, tradition, history, and culture. Defined by sweeping walls of custom Bendheim glass, the Contemplative Court serves as a space for pause and reflection, providing visitors an opportunity to process the weight of the museum’s contents.

Bendheim faced major challenges in the creation of a glass that needed to meet the highly sensitive needs of this museum. The glass had to display a subtle luminosity and a balance of opacity and translucency while providing sound control and safety.

Bendheim collaborated with lead architects at Adjaye Associates, lead designers for the museum, and Davis Brody Bond to conceptualize and produce the glass. The company’s design team created multiple glass types over the last three years, as the architectural concept evolved.

Through all the communications, and all the samples, a glass with a core of specialized bronze-metallic mesh brought the architects’ vision to light. The luminous bronze colored walls of semi-transparent glass separate museum gallery traffic from the Court, where visitors can quietly contemplate what they have viewed. The laminated glass offers enhanced safety and sound control. The resulting “quiet” aesthetic contributes to the design objective – to promote reconciliation and healing.

“Our grandfather started this company because he was passionate about glass,” said Steven Jayson, Bendheim’s Vice President. “He wanted to supply quality, timeless products that made meaningful contributions to our architectural history. He would have been proud to see Bendheim glass in a building of such national significance.”

For four generations and 90 years, Bendheim has built its company on collaborations with building professionals, providing unprecedented knowledge and expertise. Bendheim has had the opportunity to contribute to several historic architectural landmarks, including The White House in Washington, DC, Shaw Center for the Arts in Baton Rouge, LA, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, MO.

About Bendheim

Bendheim, founded in New York City in 1927, is one of the foremost resources for specialty architectural glass. The fourth-generation, family-owned company stocks over 2,000 architectural glass varieties and offers virtually unlimited custom design solutions. Bendheim develops and distributes its products worldwide, maintaining glass production facilities in New Jersey and an extensive to-the-trade showroom in Tribeca, New York City.