Library Murals Restoration Project

(music) Lori Goetsch:
We had been looking at a plan for how to renovate this room more generally. It’s really a historic
show place on campus. It’s the original 1927 reading room of the first free standing library
at K-State. As we started to look at what we needed to do here, one of the things we
looked at were the murals and floor murals really represent the foundation of the land
grant university. So I think that is one of the major reasons why we wanted to preserve
them and continue to keep them a piece of K-State libraries and a piece of K-State’s
history. Mary R. Schafer:
At the beginning you do some tests, and figure out how you would approach some of the problems.
Then once you begin, you hope that those test areas are the same across the entire mural.
But I think just the sere volume of paint that we were working with here was a challenge.
I think the second challenge I would mention is some of the water leak issues in this nice
old building. Lori Goetsch:
We had some documentation that told us that they had been restored at one point because
of water damage but we could see some other damage emerging. We didn’t have a lot of expertise
but we felt we wanted to have someone come in and take a look at them. Mary Schafer:
It has been a four year project. Each mural from start to finish would have been about
2 weeks of work. It’s different looking at the murals from down below and then getting
up on a scaffolding and the paint is right here and you can just see so many other little
things; Clues on how the work was created, condition issues, all kinds of things. We
found some interesting information about OverMeyer’s painting technique. The paint has become transparent
overtime and so you are able to see the grid lines below. Those gridlines suggest that
he was transferring a sketch on to the wall to kind of guide the composition. And so we
see those gridlines and it tells us a little bit on how he got started. We use a product
called Gamblin Conservation Paint and that’s a type of paint that is very easily reversible.
In the future the next conservator that comes along who treats these works we be able to
remove that paint using solvent that has very little effect on oil paint. With our cleaning
we had to use some acid tone based solvent mixtures. Someone down the rode won’t need
to use acid tone and that’s very good for the oil paint. Lori Goetsch:
We do have a lot of alumnus come back and want to see that room they studied in when
they were a student. Students now-a-days call it the “Harry Potter” room. They think it
sort of looks like the big dinning hall in the Harry Potter movies. We get comments from
students about it just makes me feel smarter to be in this room that looks like am old
library. I think one thing I would emphasize is just the extreme appreciation of the Friends
of the K-State Libraries. We would have been able to get this work done without their financial
support. They have taken us on as a multi-year project and we would not be where we are today
with the restoration of these murals without that group.

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