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Coit Tower – Conservation Work Continues

Conservation work is moving forward on the murals, stucco, and lobby-mounted oil canvas paintings up at Coit Tower in San Francisco. ARG/CS conservators are working with Anne Rosenthal Fine Art, the < a href=””>San Francisco Arts Commission, and SF Recreation and Park Department on the project, and we are blogging about the process as it unfolds. (You can read our first post about the work here.)

The first step in conservation of the murals is simple: cleaning surface soiling that has accumulated on surfaces. Dry media are preferred for this process, and though it isn’t anything too flashy or hugely complicated, the initial cleaning frequently produces a drastic visual change and prepares surfaces for additional treatment where needed.

After cleaning the art with a delicate hand, it is possible to perform stabilization treatments to any flaky paint and inpaint losses in the fresco surface. The painting system used to accomplish inpainting is easily reversible—an important ethical consideration with most conservation treatments.

The other focus for the week has been the installation of mock-up patch repairs in the stucco (also on the first floor). Testing began in the lab to formulate a pigmented lime mortar, and then the top-rated color matches were installed on site.

The team has also recently completed painting a decorative stripe element on the first-floor ceiling. This element had been all but forgotten. Site sampling and archival research confirmed the presence of an artistic painted border along the ceiling edges. Viewed in combination with the restored color on the stucco walls, this border once again creates a visual frame surrounding the art.

The decorative stripe along the ceiling frames the piece as a whole.

The decorative stripe along the ceiling frames the piece as a whole.