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Thursday
May072015

Conservation of the Black Experience Mural at UCLA

The Black Experience Mural was painted in 1970 by Neville Garrick and 6 other African American students on a prominent wall in the UCLA Ackerman Union.  A some point in its history, the mural was covered up by a false wall as a food court developed in the area.  I had seen this wall many times before and never would have guessed there was a huge artwork behind it.  A small chunk of the false wall was removed and it was decided by the Ackerman Student Union to reveal and restore the entire mural.  I was brought in as the conservation consultant for the entirety of the project.  From the reveal, we could estimate that the mural was probably in pretty good condition with just some minor scrapes and paint losses from tables and chairs and food stains on the painted surface.  However, we could also see that they had drilled the vetical studs for the false wall directly into the mural and its wall substrate causing areas of large losses.  Elizabeth Drolet, a part time assistant in the Fowler Conservation Labs, was brought in to lead the treatment efforts of infilling the loss areas, painting to amtch, and cleaning teh entire surface.  A glass barrier was added to protect the mural and prominent lighting and signage gave it its due importance.  Here are some links to press about the project:

http://dailybruin.com/2013/02/22/the-black-experience-a-hidden-mural-in-ackerman-to-be-exposed-after-over-20-years/

http://newsroom.ucla.edu/stories/the-black-experience-reexperienced

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