City sends Duluth mayoral portraits out for restoration
With the renovation of City Hall underway, Duluth has taken down its collection of mayoral portraits to protect them from dust. As the 32 paintings have temporarily been removed from exhibit, it was an opportune time to crate them up and send the...
With the renovation of City Hall underway, Duluth has taken down its collection of mayoral portraits to protect them from dust.
As the 32 paintings have temporarily been removed from exhibit, it was an opportune time to crate them up and send them to an art conservator for cleaning and restoration. The collection consists of portraits of varying condition, with some of the oldest dating to the 1870s.
Many of the newer paintings are in fairly good shape, but paint on some of the other canvases has crazed with age. At least one mayor’s portrait, depicting M.J. Davis, has been defaced, with holes punched in the nostrils of his visage.
Museum Services Inc. estimates the cleaning and restoration services required to bring the paintings back closer to their original condition will fall between $8,700 and $13,200, said Pakou Ly, a public information coordinator for the city. That cost will be borne by the Duluth Public Arts Commission, an organization whose charge includes maintaining and cleaning works of publicly owned art.
Once the restoration is complete, the paintings will be taken to the Minnesota Digital Library, where they will be electronically scanned and stored in digital form at no cost to the city.
Those images could then be made available to people doing research online or might one day even be incorporated into an exhibit in an electronic format, said Daniel Fanning, the city’s director of communication.
Some of the mayoral paintings vary significantly in size, presenting certain display challenges. Fanning said the city may establish parameters to encourage more sizing consistency in the future.
An image of Mayor Don Ness will join the collection after he leaves office at the end of this year, but Ly said he has yet to sit for a portrait.
The portraits will not return to City Hall until all construction work in the direct vicinity of the exhibit space has been completed, probably by fall, Fanning said.
In addition to displaying the historic portraits, Fanning said Ness has expressed interest in placing more contemporary works on exhibit at City Hall.
“The mayor would like to display more work by local artists and not just pictures of a bunch of old white guys,” Fanning said.
Duluth is in the midst of a $2 million renovation at City Hall that’s expected to be completed in 2016. The project is being paid for with money originally allocated for a new joint law enforcement center the city now shares with St. Louis County. The center was completed well under the city’s anticipated $17 million budget for the project, and excess funds were redeployed to undertake work at City Hall.