Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History conservator and PSP alumna Mariana Di Giacomo talks to Yale News about assessing the 1947 painting ahead of renovations to the museum's Great Hall. From the December 2, 2019 article by Mike Cummings:
“The Age of Reptiles” — the Yale Peabody
Museum of Natural History’s iconic panoramic mural depicting the lives
and times of dinosaurs and other reptiles — is being prepped for what
you might call the museum’s fast-approaching Age of Renovation.
Art conservators recently boarded a scissor lift in the museum’s
Great Hall and rose to a height about level with the nearby Brontosaurus
skeleton’s skull to assess the state of artist Rudolph F. Zallinger’s
1947 masterpiece, which has awed generations of visitors with its
panoply of dinosaur species roaming in a lush, volcano-dotted landscape.
The assessment is necessary to prepare the mural for the Peabody Museum’s upcoming major renovation, expected to start in December 2020 and take two years.
The museum will close for the renovation, but the 110-foot-long, 16-foot-high mural will remain in place.
“We’re assessing the mural’s condition
today to see if there’s anything we need to do to stabilize it before
the renovation begins,” said Mariana Di Giacomo, the museum’s natural
history conservator. “Construction will produce dust and vibrations. We
need a record of the painting’s current condition so that we can
effectively monitor it as the work progresses.”
Zallinger ’42 B.F.A. ’71 M.F.A. painted the prehistoric scene directly
onto dry plaster along the Great Hall’s east wall — a wall-painting
technique called fresco-secco that was in fashion during the
Renaissance. As a result, the mural cannot be moved and must be
protected and monitored throughout the renovation.
The mural will be sheltered behind scaffolding during construction, Di
Giacomo explained, adding that he protective barrier won’t touch the
painting’s surface and that air will circulate behind it to prevent
mold. Devices will continually monitor vibrations, and there will be
frequent site visits to evaluate the mural’s condition, she said.