West End Corridor Ceiling Panels

The Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

Omaha’s Durham Museum underwent a $1.6 million restoration of the ceiling in the iconic Union Station. The building was named a national historic landmark in 2016. The work in the Great Hall and West End Corridor Ceiling is the latest in a series of ceiling restorations at Union Station EverGreene that has been completed over recent years.

It was evident that the existing work was not entirely original. The original artwork had been painted over in its entirety at least once, and there was perhaps another campaign of touchups and minor changes. As a result, most of the shapes were slightly distorted, especially the straight lines of the diamonds and triangles. This observation, combined with the poor condition of the existing paint, guided our team to preserve the original under a protective layer, then execute the design replication on top. We traced the existing design, making corrections, based on evidence revealed in the painted film, as well as using historical photographs.

Once the tracing was complete, a “pounce pattern” was created, which is basically a paper template where the design is perforated with tiny holes. The pounce pattern is placed on the ceiling, and the artists rub it with a bag filled with charcoal dust. The charcoal is transmitted through the holes, which transfers the pattern to the surface. It’s a very old technique; the same technique Michelangelo used. Our craftspeople executed the design based on the historical colors found during preliminary investigations.