20 October 2012
Last updated at 09:05
A modern metallic 'orb' has been installed at the east end of York Minster. The orb, which is 10m wide and 3m tall, is a new temporary gallery reflecting the restoration of the Great East Window. Picture: York Minster
The window is, at 78ft (24m) high, the UK's largest medieval stained-glass window. It has been removed as part of a five-year conservation project which is supported by a £10m Heritage Lottery Fund grant.
Visitors to the orb can walk inside to see displays of five newly-conserved panels, four on permanent display and one which will change each month, from the window. Designed by Mather & Co, based in Cheshire, and built by Paragon Creative in York, the aim was to find a way to display the panels in an intimate setting and create something dramatic.
The 311 individual panels from the window reveal a Christian history of the world, as told in the Bible, from Creation to the Last Judgement. It was designed by Coventry-based artist John Thornton between 1405 and 1408. Thornton is widely regarded by art historians as one of the most influential medieval artists and the Great East Window is his largest surviving work.
Inside the orb dim lighting enables visitors to see the detailed work of Thornton's design for the first time since the window was constructed in the 15th Century. When the window is in situ many of the small details in the design are lost, such as the subtle expressions on the faces of characters.
Conserving each of the 600-year-old panels can take several months of work by the York Glaziers Trust. The work on the Great East Window is due to be completed by 2016.
The orb gallery will continue to display panels from the window until late 2015. The gallery opens to the public at York Minster from 27 October.