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Behind The Scenes Look | Platte Purchase Mural Restoration


Recently, we were commissioned by the Pony Express Museum to examine and repair the Platte Purchase Mural. Below is an outline of our procedures, enjoy!

Title: Platte Purchase Mural

Artist: George Gray

Dimensions: 80"H x 160"W

Medium: Oil on Canvas

Condition: The painting was examined by Peggy Van Witt with available light and Ultra Violet Light. The painting is stretched over a custom wood 1.5" strainer. The canvas is on a heavy weight cotton sailcloth not supported by the current support structure. The canvas is undulating and billowing under the displaced weight distribution and the corner draws are disfiguring to the presentation and deforming the paint. There exists a crease spanning the entire top perimeter of the canvas, which also appears to be a result of the weight over time. The wooden stretcher bars have sagged under the weight of the canvas. The surface was examined under raking light shows lifting craquelure. The grime and dirt has collated to the paint and gives it a pebbled texture. Under the UV florescence, there appears to be in-painting and retouching throughout and these later additions have cross-linked with the original paint.



• Clean painting with mild Solvents, VMP Naphtha, and OMS Polar Solvents by blotting and swabbing with a non-residual surfactant. Tri-Sodium-Metasilicate

• Level and stabilize fills with calcium carbonate

• Apply barrier varnish of UVS mat

• Inpaint losses with reversible conservation paints in raw pigments in Aquazol and MSA Golden conservation paints

• Apply protective varnish layer of UV stable, colorless, reversible varnish of hydrogenated hydrocarbon resins plus a wax-based matting agent dissolved in pure, low-aromatic hydrocarbon solvents and a 292 Tinuvin stabilizer

• This entire treatment can be reversed with alcohol or aliphatic solvents

After treatment, the painting will be stable and ready for private and public exhibition


Off site, the Custom Aluminum Honey Comb Panels were fabricated to size at Zahner Metal Conservation in Kansas City, MO.




The painting was lined onto the Aluminum Core in sections on the heated vacuum table and cooled under pressure with stone weights. The mural During Conservation Cleaning; the lefthand side is soot covered and the righthand side has been cleaned. An ultraviolet protective varnish was added to the surface of the mural. The painting after cleaning treatment was in-painted in areas of loss and abrasion.


Thank you for your interest in Van Witt Fine Art Conservation.

We hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes look!




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