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UCSF Toland Hall

ARG Conservation Services, Inc. / UCSF Toland Hall

UCSF Toland Hall

The History of Medicine in California murals were commissioned in 1935 as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Construction of the mural began in 1936 and was finished in 1940. The murals were executed by muralist Bernard Zakheim and his assistant, Phyllis Wrightson, in the true fresco technique. In 1948, the murals were completely covered by wallpaper applied directly to the surface, which was then painted over with a white linseed oil-based paint. Paintings were also hung by nails hammered into the murals. In 1962-63, the wallpaper was removed from all the murals, causing plaster and pigment loss. In 1977, the murals underwent an extensive restoration treatment by Nathan Zakheim, which included stabilization, consolidation, cleaning, filling, retouching, and an overall varnish application.

In preparation for the demolition of Toland Hall to make way for a new research and academic facility, UCSF selected ARG Conservation Services (ARG/CS) to lead a team of general and speciality contractors to remove the twelve murals and relocate them to an off-site storage location.

This design-build project consisted of three phases: design (1), permitting and conservation (2), and construction/mural relocation (3). Transporting murals that are architecturally integrated into buildings has an inherently high level of risk for damage. The primary goal of the design phase was to develop a comprehensive mural treatment and design/engineer a framed support system for deinstallation and relocation. Fresco mural stabilization included the following: (1) cleaning and poultice application to remove salts, (2) plaster compensation to fill voids and pitting associated with salts, (3) paint reattachment to stabilize previous interventions, (4) grout injections to fill voids associated with delamination and cracks, and (5) installation of temporary facing. All stabilization treatments were conducted by EC2 Art Conservation. To relocate the murals, the following tasks were required: (1) selective demolition and hazardous materials abatement to gain access to Toland Hall, (2) installation of steel frame supports to each mural; and (3) rigging and relocation. A vibration specialist was added to team during the construction phase to analyze transportation risks so that the team could finalize relocation plans. The murals were relocated to the storage facility in two moves.


Mural Removal


University of California, San Francisco


San Francisco, CA


General Contracting, Murals