American Museum of Natural History—Roosevelt Hall Murals

New York, NY

Painted by American artist William Andrew Mackay in 1935, the mural cycle in the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall of the American Museum of Natural History pays homage to Theodore Roosevelt’s international conquests and accomplishments. Quotations from Roosevelt’s writings are displayed on four walls under the headings Youth, Manhood, Nature, and The State. Planar distortions in the murals and delamination of canvas from the plaster substrate had been the subject of concern, examination, and treatment for more than 35 years. These are some of the largest indoor murals in a New York City public building, as the conserved historic murals cover 5,200 square-feet.

Based on archival research, media analysis, and condition survey, EverGreene developed plaster substrate, a comprehensive treatment plan to conserve the entire mural cycle which was approved by the owner, their consultants, and the Public Design Commission. Following extensive treatment testing on one canvas in a pilot phase, EverGreene conservators and technicians executed a wide range of treatments on the entire mural cycle, including treatment of unstable plaster, removal (and subsequent reinstallation) of seven canvas panels, flattening of planar distortion, repair of previous damage, varnish removal, paint consolidation, surface cleaning, and inpainting.

All work was performed on an enclosed scaffold with engineered controls to contain lead-contaminates, under strict environmental protocols in an occupied public space.