Rob Speyer and Tishman Speyer Undertake Three-Year Project to Conserve Landmark Art
Iconic Murals at 30 Rockefeller Plaza Being Cleaned and Restored
By: Iva Benson
"Rockefeller Center is not only an architectural masterpiece, but it is also a gallery of important works of art that the public can freely enjoy," said Rob Speyer (http://www.tishmanspeyer.com/
Tishman Speyer commissioned EverGreene Painting Studios to restore the 30 Rockefeller Plaza murals. "Overall, the Jose Sert and Frank Brangwyn murals have been in stable condition, with the main concern being the varnish that was applied in the 1970s," said Jeff Greene of EverGreene Painting Studio. "The removal of all the yellow and brown-toned varnish will result in a dramatically changed interior of this landmark."
The Jose Sert and Frank Brangwyn murals, total of more than 16,000 square feet of canvas located on the walls, staircases, mezzanine and ceiling of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, were commissioned by John D. Rockefeller and John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1933. The murals have a unifying theme, "New Frontiers," encompassing all aspects of American society: labor, science, communication, culture, spirituality, travel and history. Sert and Brangwyn painted the murals in their studios in Paris and London, respectively. Designer Edward Trumbull determined a set color scheme and oversaw the installation of the murals.
"After the murals started emerging clean and restored, we saw the color scheme as it was originally intended," said Rob Speyer (http://www.topoftherocknyc.com/
EverGreene Painting Studio started the conservation and restoration process by executing a six-month pilot project to determine the feasibility and most appropriate methodology for the removal of the coating - it found that the varnish could be removed by mechanical, eco-friendly means. Bone folders, hand-held instruments typically used in bookbinding, were found to be the most effective tool to methodically clean the murals inch by inch. In July 2008, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission gave approval to conserve the entire mural series in a two-year project.
To date, ten wall murals have been completed, and the difference between the restored murals and the untouched panels is staggering. Work on American Progress, arguably the most famous of the murals, will begin this fall. The ceiling restoration will commence in early 2010.
About Tishman Speyer:
Tishman Speyer (http://tishmanspeyer.wordpress.com/