Conservation Workshop

Muna tries cleaning with a dry sponge.

In one of my early walkthroughs on the project, I noticed many issues with the decorative, hand-painted ceilings. I pointed out peeling paint, canvas pulling away and how in general the ceilings looked very dirty. When I asked the Executive Director what his plans were to fix these very noticeable issues, he informed me that they had no plans to address the conservation of the ceilings and that money hadn’t been set aside for treatment during the capital campaign.

As the exhibit designer, I was concerned that if we build and install beautiful new graphics and casework but leave the ceilings as they are—dingy with paint peeling off the ceiling onto visitors’s heads–that this would create the impression that the project wasn’t carefully thought through.

Last spring, I developed a condition report and early summer I brought a conservator out to assess the conditions of the ceilings and to make recommendations for treatments staff can learn to perform, as a cost-effective solution. Her site-visit was very enlightening and I loved getting up close to inspect parts of the walls and ceilings. I was excited to learn that there were opportunities for the staff to perform the cleaning and repairs. I scheduled a workshop with the same paintings conservator from ICA-Art Conservation out of Cleveland for late September—after everything had been cleared out of the Mansion but before construction began.

The training was a hit! Everyone attending had the opportunity to particpate, including me. It was very satisfying to see the ceilings get cleaned and the painted details to become brighter. Now I need to purchase the materials and schedule the staff to do the cleaning…

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