York Minster Revealed

The Orb


The medieval stained glass of York Minster’s Great East Window has been described as the English equivalent of the Sistine Chapel. Now through a five-year project generously supported by a £10.5 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the 108 glass panels from the Great East Window are being both restored and conserved over a five year period until they are finally reinstalled into the window in 2016.

During this period the client wanted to create a gallery and a series of interactives exhibits located within the grade 1 historic interior to help inform visitors of the story of the both the window, its glass panels and the craftsmen glaziers and stone masons that originally built the Minster. The concept and scheme design was completed by Mather &Co whose proposals included the Orb, a 10 metre wide, 3 metre tall dome gallery and interactive exhibits located within the central Lady Chapel, St Stephen’s Chapel and All Saints Chapel. 


Paragon Creative Ltd was commissioned as Principle Contractor to complete the detail design development, fabrication and installation of the York Minster Revealed Exhibition including the Orb Gallery structure and the exhibition exhibits within the other areas.

Over a two month period Paragon Creative’s specialist teams were engaged on the detail design and manufacture of around 3,000 components, which together form the highly innovative elliptical Orb structure.

The external skin is a metallic impregnated Composite over a rolled steel sub-structure with internal MDF panels covered with fabric and Nextel finish. The restored glass panels are backlit and mounted within apertures within the internal walls and the general ambience within the space is one of quiet contemplation. Gobo projected images of the stain glass appear on the Orb’s external skin and these transform as the daylight changes within the Minster throughout the day. 

The interactive exhibits which numbered around 15 were designed to inform visitors of the scale and type of work facing the modern stonemasons in restoring the stone tracery supporting the stained glass panels. Some of these interactive exhibits featured tools and stone taken from the building. A touch screen game also developed by Paragon also enabled children to virtually chip away at a block of stone.


The Acting Dean of York, Canon Glyn Webster comments: “The metallic exterior of the Orb is subtly illuminated with moving projections of stained glass to add extra colour and movement to the domed roof. “The positioning of five panels within The Orb represents a fascinating juxtaposition of old and new. Visitors will be able to step into a contemporary metallic structure and see the detail of the painting of the medieval glass." 

Our Client: York Minster
Designed by: Mather and Co

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