Press Room

Chavannes Mural Successfully Removed from Central Library’s Grand Staircase

by awilliams

After weeks of careful preparation, conservators have detached the Central Library’s Chavannes’ Philosophy mural panel from its backing wall. The panel, one of eight Chavannes’ murals that surround the Central Library’s grand staircase, was originally adhered to the library walls in 1895-96 using the “marouflage” technique of binding canvas to plaster support with an adhesive paste. Over the years this adhesive weakened, making it necessary for conservators to remove the panel from its backing for repairs – an ambitious procedure that has rarely been attempted on marouflaged canvas.

In order to safely remove the panel, conservators Gianfranco Pocobene and Ian Hodkinson spent the first weeks of the project securing the mural surface with protective layers of rice paper, canvas, and a network of supportive wood braces. On Wednesday, February 3, the conservators cut away at the remaining adhesive and plaster behind it, succeeding in detaching the panel.

A team was at the ready to help lower the panel onto scaffolding and carry it upstairs to the Cheverus room, where it will undergo relining and restoration for the next six to eight weeks. The restored panel is expected to return to its location on the grand staircase in April 2016.