On December 9, 2023, Peggy Van Witt was awarded the 2023 James Anderson Historic Preservation Award presented by the Native Sons and Daughters of Greater Kansas City. This Award is in recognition of her restoration of Hildreth Meière's historic mural consisting of "Arrival at Westport Landing," "Outfitting at Westport Landing," and "Commerce of the Prairie" for Union Station in Kansas City, MO.
Removal of the mural from the wall above the Union Station Post Office.
First painted in 1937, Meière's mural had since been installed in various locations around Kansas City. It remained hanging above the post office of Union Station for many years before it was brought to the attention of Van Witt Fine Art Conservation. After the first examination in January of 2023, the mural became Van Witt's main focus for many months until it was officially completed in August.
Condition Report and Examination:
In a previous installation, the mural had been cut into eight panels and glued to sheetrock molded to the curved wall. During the examination, Van Witt pried off a small corner of the mural to see how it was adhered to the sheetrock. It was evident that the embrittled paint would crack and blister when moved due to the heavy shellac coating.
At our studio, we cleaned and removed the sheetrock debris.
The brittle shellac coating of the mural was unstable and began flaking off in large sections, totally disfiguring parts of the image.
Once the canvas was reinstalled onto flat panels, the surfaces of the mural panels were cleaned and losses were in-painted to match the surrounding image and restored.
Installation begins above the Grand Staircase at Union Station.
After restoration, the mural now hangs above the freshly renovated Grand Staircase in the heart of Union Station.
More information about The Native Sons and Daughters of Greater Kansas City and The James Anderson Historic Preservation Award at https://www.nsdkc.org/.