Public Art happiness is … Renowned Williamstown Art Conservation Center caring for historic Gloucester murals!

Thanks to Mayor Romeo-Theken, city officials & departments and staff, residents, volunteers, archives and generous grant awards & donations, — Gloucester’s extant historic mural collection has begun a new chapter and is beginning to receive most fitting care at the illustrious Williamstown Art Conservation Center!

Williamstown Art Conservation teams commence work for Gloucester MA_on its historic mural many WPA era _20180510_© Catherine Ryan.jpg
WACC conservation teams on the ground in Gloucester, MA, 2018


Located on the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute campus, The Williamstown Art Conservation Center​ (WACC) is a non-profit institution that was established as the regional conservation center for New England by the US government back in 1977.

WACC_20180620_© catherine ryan.jpg
The Williamstown Art Conservation Center is located on the campus of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. (architect Tadao Ando)


The summer 2017 issue of Art Conservator, WACC’s indispensable industry magazine, ​focused on the center’s 40th anniversary milestone and Director Tom Branchick. The back page prints the 2017 Center consortium members.


williamstown art conservation center member consortium 2017
Gloucester Massachusetts art collection stands with important American collections and just might be the first municipality on this list!~

You can peruse the issue here or follow the link to explore a complete digitized repository of current and past issues. The WACC website URL is:


Conservators at the center assessed the condition  and performed necessary triage because of the invaluable support from the city’s Community Preservation Act (CPA). CPA funding and Williamstown Art Conservation Center’s stature are inspiring endorsements for broadcasting the project and compelling additional financial support. As money is raised, every mural will have its necessary care regimen completed. Donations in support of the mural care can be sent c/o the Auditor’s Office, City of Gloucester, 9 Dale Avenue, Gloucester, MA (note mural restoration). All murals will be displayed in Gloucester as soon as their care is completed.

Sneak peek then and now:

The former Eastern Avenue School (85 Eastern Avenue) was the site for the monumental mural, Schooldays, by Frederick L. Stoddard, from 1936.  This multi-panel triptych was painted 8 feet high and nearly 60 feet long despite an array of unusual architectural challenges. My hunch for its original location on the main floor was confirmed thanks to Barbara Tarr. I’m looking for interior photos of the school that show the mural installed. Over time the school walls were resurfaced, doors blocked, and an elevator installed. Based on my expertise, I recognized that a stand alone piece was misattributed and must have been dispersed, not as bad as the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz after the flying monkeys descend-… still it was dire and will be amazing to have it whole once again! Special thanks go to Gloucester’s Department of Public Works.

catherine ryan correct attribution and rediscovery for major and amazing frederick l stoddard gloucester ma 1936 mural © catherine ryan





5 thoughts on “Public Art happiness is … Renowned Williamstown Art Conservation Center caring for historic Gloucester murals!

  1. How unbelievably awesome it is to be able to have these experts taking care of another piece of our Gloucester heritage. Thank you to Mayor Theken for your hand in getting this done and to Catherine for sharing your expertise and your amazing connections that you have. Wow!! Thank you so much for sharing this great news.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Dear Friends, I was very happy to hear that Gloucester is taking such good care of the murals in the school.All credit to the Mayor..I believe that my Dad had a few murals there though I’ve never seen them personally..I do remember seeing his murals hanging in Warmaths restaurant in Boston.I also remember going with my father as a very little boy to visit Captain Pine .Captain Pine had a wicker bowl on a table with all sorts of jack knives.I was allowed to pick one out and keep can imagine how excited I was and why I’ve never forgotten that ! Haven’t been in the States since 1970 .Lived in Sweden and the Netherlands. Retired now and reside in Amsterdam. Your blog is a wonderful way for me to keep up to date with events back home. Well,keep up the good work and I wish you all the best. Sincerely, Larry O’Toole

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for writing about your dad and including some memories. I love the detail about the knives from Ben Pine! I’ll be happy to share some more photos of your dad’s amazing work so you can admire them from afar. For now, you can eye one photo above — right in this post (the image with the conservators on the scaffolding), and two earlier posts here and here Right alongside the WPA era public art commissions, Ben Pine was doing the same, and commissioning O’Toole especially. Ron Gilson remembers helping your dad in the studio at Pine’s headquarters. Gloucester is fortunate to have exceptional examples from two of his series and devoted caretakers keeping watch through the decades! I’ll contact you some more about YOU. Did you work with your eye and hand, follow a path of art, and cultivate interest in all things sailing? Thank you for reading and mentioning Good Morning Gloucester’s beautiful connection across the seas. – Catherine


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