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Wednesday, May 31 • 11:30am - 12:00pm
(Architecture) Beyond Treatment: Monitoring before during and after conservation of the mural, América Tropical, by David Alfaro Siqueiros, 1932

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América Tropical was painted by renowned artist David Alfaro Siqueiros in 1932 on the second story exterior wall of the historic Italian Hall, located in El Pueblo Historic Monument in downtown Los Angeles, and is the only mural painted by Siqueiros in the U.S. which remains in situ today. Measuring approximately 18 x 80 feet, América Tropical depicts a Mexican Indian, crucified on a double cross beneath an American eagle. Two sharpshooters are taking aim at the eagle from a nearby rooftop. Given the significance of the mural and its conservation problems, in 1988 the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) entered into a collaborative partnership with El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, a department of the City of Los Angeles, to conserve, protect and interpret the mural, and provide public access to view it. In the years that followed, the GCI measured environmental conditions, analyzed the paint and plaster, performed conservation treatment, and digitally documented condition and treatment; while the City of Los Angeles built a protective shelter, viewing platform, and interpretive center. These combined activities aimed to preserve and present the mural in its historic and artistic context. The project was completed in 2012. As part of the conservation component, the GCI committed to carry out post-treatment monitoring for ten years. Over the course of the project, a variety of monitoring techniques were used to understand conditions, follow construction activities, and track changes following treatment. This presentation will discuss the monitoring carried out at each phase of the project, and elaborate on the objectives, techniques, and results achieved. The monitoring activities include environmental monitoring; monitoring of condition before treatment; monitoring of construction activities using a time-lapse camera while the protective shelter was being constructed; and post-treatment monitoring based on a comprehensive monitoring plan developed by the project team to ensure the long-term preservation of the mural and the site. The objective of post-treatment monitoring is to detect and address any change to the condition of the mural, the integrated window shutters and door, the shelter, viewing platform, and surrounding environment, then report this information to the General Manager of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, who is responsible for the maintenance and presentation of the site. The different methods of monitoring each had a specific objective, and were relatively low-cost and easily implemented. They provided valuable information needed at each stage of the work to inform planning and decision-making. Going forward, the monitoring procedures put into place will continue to aid the understanding of the efficacy of current maintenance and management procedures, the conservation treatment, and performance of the shelter. While not all mural conservation projects may carry out monitoring to this degree, the methods used can be easily adapted for use on other sites with similar issues.

avatar for Leslie Rainer, [PA]

Leslie Rainer, [PA]

Wall Paintings Conservator, Senior Project Specialist, Getty Conservation Institute
Leslie Rainer is a wall paintings conservator and senior project specialist at the Getty Conservation Institute. She has been involved in the conservation of wall paintings on projects in the US, France, Italy, West Africa, China, Mexico, Guatemala and Peru. She is currently project... Read More →

avatar for Kiernan Graves

Kiernan Graves

Wall Painting Conservator, Getty Conservation Institute
Kiernan Graves graduated from the Courtauld Institute of Art with a master's degree in the conservation of wall paintings. She spent the first part of her career in private practice working on a range of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In the United States, her professional collaborations... Read More →

Wednesday May 31, 2017 11:30am - 12:00pm CDT
Crystal Ballroom A Lobby Level, West Tower