A masterclass in museum storage

Even the finest museums in the world need storage and display shelving for their shops, cafes, and restaurants. These pieces of furniture have a difficult dual task: to meet the practical requirements of commerce without compromising the luxury, high-art setting of the museum.

Louvre-Lens museum with contemporary USM Haller white display cabinets

There is one product that is perfectly suited to this task: the USM Haller system. Precision-built from the finest materials, the USM Haller system provides luxury storage and display for luxury environments. Its endlessly reconfigurable modular system is uniquely suited to the ever-shifting requirements of museums and galleries: built from a versatile set of standard parts, USM Haller furniture can be reconfigured – or completely collapsed and rebuilt – in a matter of hours, allowing curators and gallerists to quickly assemble the perfect display environment for new pieces, and to design whole new display systems for new collections.

USM Haller white mixed display cabinets and shelving in a museum giftshop

Masterclass 1: The Louvre-Lens Museum

The Louvre is perhaps the most famous museum in the world. This meant that there was a lot to live up to when the Louvre-Lens, which exhibits pieces from the Louvre’s permanent collection, opened in Northern France in 2012. Architecturally, the Louvre-Lens pays homage to the original museum with a modern glass-and-steel casing, but stakes out its individuality with a circular motif. Designed by Japanese studio Sanaa who describe the aesthetic as “simple but not harsh,” the building won the Équerre d'argent, a prestigious French architecture award.

“USM furniture matched our specifications for the shop in terms of its fluidity, lightness, modularity, and the glass and steel echo the building’s structure.”

- Catherine Ferrar, General Manager, Louvre-Lens

Simple but not harsh would be a good start when defining USM’s own aesthetic, so USM pieces were the clear choice for the museum’s shop and restaurant. In the shop, USM Haller pieces finished in light gray and glass are custom-built to meet specific requirements with precision: large, open shelving compartments contain objects for purchase, while lockable drawers and closed glass boxes contain and display more valuable items. The chrome and glass finish beautifully complements the building’s architecture, while the rectangular straight edges provide a counterpoint to the building’s circular architecture.

Not far away, chef Marc Meurin’s gallery restaurant also features a prominent USM Haller piece. Finished in a bold yellow that stands out amid a palette of otherwise muted hues, the unit stands proudly at the center of the restaurant’s dining hall, drawing the eye without compromising the restaurant’s calm atmosphere. Accessible on all four sides, the piece is convenient for service and gives the space its structure, as well as much of its personality. It’s the perfect marriage of form and function.

Masterclass 2: Lascaux International Centre for Parietal Art

A UNESCO World Heritage site, the cave of Lascaux in Dordogne, France, is one of the most prestigious archaeological finds of the 20th century. Containing a major collection of prehistoric art, it’s come to be known as the “Sistine Chapel of Prehistory”. The International Center of Parietal Art offers visitors the immersive experience of a complete reproduction of the cave, allowing visitors to experience the art up close. Located below the Lascaux hill and designed by Casson Mann along with architects Snøhetta and SRA, the semi-buried building incorporates the natural rock formations of the hill it calls home and features a gift shop giving visitors a chance to take home more than just memories.


The challenge in furnishing the shop was to create an open and inviting atmosphere without compromising the Center’s prehistoric art-infused aesthetic. The designers chose the USM Haller system for this purpose: a clean and modern setting for the products on display, but with a timeless quality that complements the facility’s rugged stone walls and flooring. A neutral white finish allows the products to stand out and speak for themselves; a wide variety of differently sized shelves, glass display boxes, drawers, and hanging rails ensure that every product has its own perfect place. A combination of fixed pieces and units on caster wheels gives the space flexibility; further adaptability comes from the system’s modular functionality – it can be reconfigured when new storage and display needs arrive.

white USM Haller museum display shelving with modular display cabinets

Further USM pieces feature in the reception area and offices. In contrast with the pure white of the shop, these pieces bring warmth to their surroundings with a bold orange finish. Given the administrative needs of the office, their functionality is also vastly different: a grid of drawers with deep storage capability is topped off with a series of open shelving for the office’s most frequently needed documents and stationery.

Get in touch with one of our furniture design experts to create your own unique storage and display pieces using the USM Haller furniture system.