Max Spivak Mosaic

Pfizer, Groton, CT

Since 1960, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has maintained an expansive research campus in Groton, CT. The entrance to one of the facilities on-site, known as Building 118, was adorned with a glass mosaic mural by abstract artist Max Spivak. The mural comprises a variety of scenes depicting the progress of biomedical research. The mosaic required salvage prior to demolition of the building.

In December 2013, we were brought in by Pfizer to remove select sections of the mosaic for conservation. The client identified three discreet sections to save: a large sun, a molecule, and the signature of the artist. Conservators marked out the perimeter of each, applied a protective facing, and began the careful selective demolition. A plywood crating jig was installed around each partway through the demolition in order to protect the mosaic and help stabilize it as it was freed from the wall.

Once removed, the mosaics were transported to us’s studio for conservation cleaning, stabilization and mounting. Treatment involved removing extraneous masonry from the back of the mosaics, the design and installation of a new mounting system using aluminum honeycomb panels, and cleaning and conservation of the glass tesserae. The conservation team reinstalled or replaced tesserae that had been dislodged with pieces salvaged during the removal process. Losses in grout were in-filled with new color-matched grout. A bronze plaque on the signature mosaic was patinated and waxed.