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!
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.
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.
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.