Masterclass of Conservation Issues for Contemporary Art Murals in Public Places

A legal mural approved by the city.

Murals by living artists in public venues are mostly located throughout city locations accessible by the public. The international problems with their protection, preservation and restoration are common issues confronted by specialized art conservation professionals hired by city governments, historical organizations and corporations. The quality of the artwork varies from illegal spray-can-paste-up street art that morphs out of the graffiti sub-culture to fine artists with formal training and techniques that create community pride-of-ownership monuments and landmarks.

Spray cans in illegal tagging and mural location

This “masterclass,” attended by mostly veteran specialized art conservation professionals, was actually a master-mind forum for exchanging ideas and experiences. The conference was held at the José Rodrigues Foundation UPTEC’s Creative Industries Center. Practicing mural conservation professionals attended from Milan Italy, Athens Greece, Amsterdam Holland, Los Angeles (Santa Barbara, CA) USA, Barcelona Spain, Porto and Lisbon Portugal, Oslo Norway, Dublin Ireland, Bucharest Romania, Sydney Australia, San Paolo Brasil and from Athens Greece.

Professional mural conservators masters class discussing preservation and social issues.

Many of the problems discussed and that are routinely resolved go far beyond the nasty job of graffiti removal, which include; the questionable techniques and materials choices of some artists, the quality of the walls used for mural painting and the sometimes precarious locations.

So, when it comes time for recuperating, preserving and restoring murals, some mural painting techniques often don’t lend themselves to easily resolving difficult treatment problems. Add to this a wide variety of very complicated logistics for the size of murals, sometimes the size of large buildings.

For instance, one of the problems of interest, discussed from several points of view, several times, were the varnishing of murals and what does a quality (or functional) anti-graffiti coating consist of; what makes one mural more resistant to aging and maintenance than another; how do people define what is worth saving; will vandalism today be considered art in the future? Specialty tools and apps were reviewed and several projects in process presented.

The idea exchange was stimulating and the attendees congenial as visits were made to many murals in the city and presentations of problems were made in the conference room to stimulate discussions. The weather was wonderful, the food good and the time well spent.

This mural conservation mastermind group was organized by 20|21 Conservação e Restauro de Arte Contemporânea, Lda.,Porto,Portugal

For a mural capabilities statement, click here.

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Questions? Call Scott M. Haskins, Oriana Montemurro, Virginia Panizzon, Art Conservators, Andrew Jacobs – Disaster Response Coordinator

805 564 3438 office 805 570 4140 mobile

3-D art from trash

About Scott M. Haskins

Scott Haskins has been in professional art conservation since 1975, specializing in the conservation/restoration of easel paintings, murals and art on paper. FACL, Inc. is known nationally for doing A+ work no matter the size or difficulty of the project. We are happy to do a quick cleaning on a family heirloom. Our client list and resume is also full of very satisfied clients of large, difficult/complicated projects at remote locations. Excellent services are also available as an Expert Witness/Legal Testimony in art related matters. Consultation on art related projects occur regularly including extensive insurance evaluations for insured or insurer. Services are offered worldwide. Scott M. Haskins is also author of the "Save Your Stuff" series, educational information, materials and supplies to help people protect and save their treasured family heirlooms and collectibles at home and office. He can be reached at 805 564 3438. Video and written testimonials at
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