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​UD art conservation students working diligently to clean the Delaware River and Bay Authority's Micarta Mural. Photo by Even Krape for UDaily.

​In the lobby of the newly renovated Delaware River and Bay Authority building near New Castle, Delaware, undergraduate art conservation students Amanda Kasman and Karissa Muratore are cleaning what is known as the Micarta Mural. From the March 16, 2017 UDaily article by Anne Grae Martin:

The mural, named for the commercial resin that seals it, shows a map of the East Coast and is made up of six, 4-by-8-foot panels that stretch the entire length of the administration building’s lobby.

Kasman, a junior majoring in art conservation at the University of Delaware, and Muratore, a recent graduate of the program, were hand selected for this cleaning project. The two met two summers ago on a UD study-abroad trip to Sardinia, Italy, where they worked on conservation of pre-Roman statuary. They spent the next summer cleaning, repairing, inventorying and reinstalling the contents of a 6-by-3-foot, 18-room dollhouse at Winterthur Museum. The mural is their third project together. “It definitely helps that we have a similar work ethic,” Muratore said of their collaborations. “We do our utmost possible.”

The Micarta Mural, painted in the mid-1960s by Aurion M. Proctor, had been in storage for several years. When the Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) began its lobby redesign project, the idea of using the mural as a centerpiece came up immediately. The final color scheme of the lobby, featuring blues and greens, uses the mural as its inspiration. “We wanted to make [the lobby] a little more colorful and inviting rather than just a dull government institution,” Joseph Gibbons, the DRBA’s director of maintenance and operations, said.

Early in the redesign process, the DRBA contacted the University’s Department of Art Conservation to see if a partnership would be possible. Kristin deGhetaldi, who earned her doctorate in preservation studies last year and is supervising the mural conservation work, conducted initial tests and found that the project was suited for students. “When we figured out we didn’t have to use noxious and potentially toxic solvents, we saw that this could be a great project for students that are involved in the program because we can do this safely and it can be done carefully,” deGhetaldi said.

The mural had not been washed since it was made, so Kasman and Muratore have been cleaning dirt that accumulated in the years it was previously displayed as well as what built up during its time in storage, which deGhetaldi referred to as a “superficial tenacious grime layer.” The sealing material allows Kasman and Muratore to clean away the grime without risking damage to the original painting. “In most conservation you’re going down to the paint layer itself, which has a lot of risks, for example removing paint that you can’t put back,” Kasman said. “It [this project] is satisfying because there’s not that much risk that we’re actually touching the material that he made.”

To read the full UDaily article and watch a video about the treatment project, click here.

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Undergraduate art conservation students Amanda Kasman and Karissa Muratore are cleaning a mural in the new lobby of the Delaware River and Bay Authority building.

Undergraduate art conservation students Amanda Kasman and Karissa Muratore are cleaning a mural in the new lobby of the Delaware River and Bay Authority building.

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Art conservation students clean DRBA painting now on display
  • The Department of Art Conservation
  • 303 Old College
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-3489