Preserving Mexican murals in S.F Essay

Preserving Mexican murals in S.F. Art conservation is a meticulous craft that’s usually hiddenfrom view.

Now through April in an exhibit in San Francisco’s M.H.de Young Memorial Museum, you can watch conservators working on muralsfrom Teotihuacan–Mexico’s ancient city and ceremonial center. You’ll see how dirt and minerals, encrusted on the delicatepainted surfaces after at least 13 centuries of burial and decay, areremoved to reveal elaborate images of undulating feathered serpents,flowering trees, defiant warrior birds, and striding priest deities. Inan adjacent gallery, wall displays and a 10-minute video presentationexplain the process in detail. The blue, green, black, and ocher murals once adorned the walls ofdomestic compounds at Teotihuacan–the first major urban center in whatscholars call Middle America. Crudely removed in the 1960s, more than70 fragments surfaced in a private collection that was willed to themuseum in 1976.

Once conservation work has been completed, half of themural fragments will return to Mexico and the rest will remain in themuseum. The museum is in Golden Gate Park. Hours: 10 to 5 Wednesdaysthrough Sundays. Admission: $2 for adults, 50 cents children 5 through17 and seniors, free for all on the first Wednesday of each month and 10to noon Saturdays. For other museum information, call (415) 750-3659. Photo: Ancient fragments depict warrior bird.

Behind glass atrear, conservators brush and clean painted surfaces

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