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BAACG Tour of the SF Maritime Museum

The District's San Francisco Maritime Museum building was built as a bathhouse in 1936 by the WPA under the new deal. A group of artists led by Hilaire Hiler was commissioned by the Federal Art Project administration to furnish murals, mosaics and sculptures in every part of the building from the ground floor up, inside and out. We were thrilled to have Richard Everette and Anne Rosenthal take us through the history of the artwork, artists and effort to conserve and restore the WPA murals.

The lecture was divided into two parts, the first was a delightful in-depth historical journey of the WPA, the unique collection of artists such as Charles Nunemaker and Sargent “Claude” Johnson and their contributions inside of the building and out. Richard took great care to bring these characters to life (and characters they were) using an impressive accumulation of original research by himself and a few colleagues.

For more information about the artists: Federal Art Project

The second half was a presentation on the condition and treatment of the WPA murals by Anne Rosenthal. She generously described each area of the murals showing before and during treatment slides. There was a variety of problems ranging from environmental exposure, abrasions, varnish erosion and soil. She faced notable and unique challenges with the Hiler mural because of the deterioration of the color tone. For more information on Hilaire Hiler’s unique theory of color, his book Color Harmony and Pigment has been published on the Web.

For more information on Hilaire Hiler’s unique take on color theory, his book Color Harmony and Pigment has been digitized and published on the Web.

Following the lecture we were given a guide tour with both lecturers pointing out specific areas of interest and some of their favorite details. The men enjoyed special dispensation to explore the mysteries of the ladies' room at the museum, which has a wonderful mural in its foyer. We also enjoyed an opportunity to review portions of the museum currently inaccessible to the general public.

Autumn Meet and Mingle 2011

On November 10th, BAACG invited members as well as emerging conservators in the Bay Area to meet with each other over food and drink.  The gathering featured a joint presentation from Michael Graves and Candis Griggs Hakim discussing the treatment, mounting, and housing of three Ojibwe dolls.  Along with the talk, guests were invited to introduce themselves and get to know one another.  The gathering, hosted fabulously by Michael Graves and Michael Grover at Arcadia Framing in San Francisco, was a resounding success.  Aside from a autumn-inspired spread provided by Melissa Stone, emerging conservators who attended got a chance to introduce themselves and learn about educational programs around North America while other attendees got a chance to mingle with their colleagues and enjoy each others company.  Thank you to all who attended and to those who made this meeting a possibility!

Article submitted by Melissa Stone

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Photos by Mike Jennings

Phoebe Hearst Museum Tour 2011

On October 1st, 2011, BAACG had the unique privilege to tour the Phoebe Hearst Museum on the UC Berkeley campus.  The current exhibition (The Conservator’s Art: Preserving Egypt’s Past) features a variety of ancient Egyptian artifacts.  This exhibit is fairly unusual in that its conservation efforts are a prominent part of the presentation.  This is, of course, in order to increase awareness of the value (and expense) of conserving these artifacts.  Placards on the wall describe not only the artifacts but the processes and techniques used to stabilize or restore them, and there is a functioning conservator's workstation in the middle of the exhibit, operated a couple times a week by one of the conservation staff.

Following the tour, about a dozen of us enjoyed a lovely lunch at the elegant Henry's Pub at Bowditch and Durant.

It was a delight to talk shop with Ms. Williams and her team, and we thank them kindly for taking the time.

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