Logistical Challenges in the Relocation of Monumental Modern Architectural Artworks
Rosa Lowinger, Christina Varvi, Kelly Ciociola
Studies in Conservation
Many buildings of the 1940s to the 1970s are decorated with monumental façade artworks. These murals, mosaics, and integral sculptural reliefs sometimes gain in cultural value even if the buildings on which they are installed do not. When a building that supports an artwork is designated for demolition, artworks whose scale and installation never accounted for future repositioning are endangered. Frequently, owners or developers are loath to consider any option besides demolishing the artworks along with the building, due to cost, or a fear that rescuing them will hold up construction. The result is great loss of iconic artworks. This paper will demonstrate conservation methods for dismantling, removing, and relocating midtwentieth century modern architectural artworks. Case studies will include the relocation of a monumental 1963 mosaic at Houston Methodist Hospital; dismantling a 1961 brick/concrete block mural on a Miami, Florida facade; and the removal and relocation of a Millard Sheets mural in Santa Monica, California. The authors will discuss strategic approaches used to help clients understand that these endeavours are possible, as well as specific methodologies, challenges, pitfalls, budgetary considerations, and best practices for achieving results.