The Mural Department conservators are trained in the treatment of oil, fresco, acrylic, and other media. The Center is equipped to handle murals in various sizes that are created on plaster, canvas, metal, wood, and paper. Often up on scaffolding, working a square inch at a time, this department meets the demand of preserving large-scale public art.
The Mural Department conservators are trained in the treatment of oil, fresco, acrylic, and other media. Founded in 1996, the Mural Department’s portfolio now includes treatment of over 600 Works Progress Administration (WPA) and Progressive Era murals across the United States.
The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) constitutes the largest remaining mural collection in the country. These murals were painted between 1904 and 1943. The Center has fostered a relationship with CPS and has assisted with the preservation of 440 murals across the city. In 2002, The Conservation Center co-curated an exhibition with the Art Institute of Chicago entitled To Inspire and Instruct: Murals from the Chicago Public Schools to re-introduce the restored murals to the public.
Heather Becker, The Conservation Center's CEO, is widely considered to be an expert in the restoration of early-20th-century murals in Chicago. She authored a book on Chicago murals and art preservation entitled Art for the People (Chronicle Books) in 2004.
Click here to read all press related to the CPS mural preservation project.
"Chicago has a very rich cultural legacy recorded in the Chicago Public School murals. Posterity owes a debt to the efforts being made to preserve them. The Mural Preservation project creates a way to maintain continuity and integrity for the visual arts and history of Chicago." - Ed Paschke
"The New Deal wasn't perfect; it was dynamic. The atmosphere of challenge and experiment, as well as preserving and recording, was mirrored in the arts program. Whether comfortable or not, art reflects some truths about who we are, and that's healthy for us. The New Deal for artists proved its benefits." - Anna Eleanor Roosevelt
"Even though (The New Deal) came out of a terrible thing called the Depression, I feel the time was a very great moment in American cultural history. Strangely enough, it was a glorious period in American culture...the time was very exciting. Everything converged: the Depression, the New Deal, the Arts Project, the Federal Writer's Project, the Federal Theater Project, all in one moment." - Studs Terkel
"The research, preservation, and educational efforts under way in Chicago are being recignized across the country as a model of arts education programming. As with the WPA, the glory of these efforts does not lie in the beaurocracies that have helped bring them about. Instead, the true significance of these art programs endures in the lives of teachers, students, and other audiences who contribute to and benefit from them." - Heather Becker