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Mural Being Given New Life at The New York Public Library’s Iconic 42nd Street Building

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EverGreene Architectural Arts recreating the historic artwork for the ceiling of the Bill Blass Catalog Room

MARCH 2, 2016 – A mural by artist James Wall Finn is being restored for the ceiling of a historic room at The New York Public Library’s iconic Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.

The mural – depicting the sky and located on the ceiling of the Library’s Bill Blass Catalog Room – is being recreated by EverGreene Architectural Arts, the same renowned artists that recreated Finn’s murals in the Library’s Rose Main Reading Room during its full restoration in 1998. At that time, the adjacent Bill Blass Catalog Room and its mural were not restored.

The Library decided to recreate the  27-by-33-foot mural while having the 52-foot ceilings of both the Bill Blass Catalog Room and the Rose Main Reading Room inspected after a rosette fell from the Reading Room ceiling in May of 2014. The inspection by WJE Engineers and Architects – done on massive platforms that spanned the length of the ceilings in both rooms – found that the ceiling needed minor repairs and reinforcement. Both the Reading Room and Bill Blass room are slated to reopen ahead of schedule in fall 2016.

While the platforms were in place, the Library had the Bill Blass mural inspected by a fine arts conservator in June 2015, and it was determined to need serious work, as it sustained irreparable damage, loss of original paint, discoloration, patch jobs and unsophisticated overpaint  in its 105 years.

“It is important that the Library be a great steward of all of its buildings, including the iconic 42nd Street Library and its historic reading rooms,” said NYPL President Tony Marx. “The existing work was a golden opportunity to restore the original spirit and beauty of this mural, keeping the Bill Blass Catalog Room and the Library as inspiring and stunning as the day it opened in 1911.”

EverGreene Architectural Arts – a firm that has recreated, conserved or restored artwork and decorative ornament in historic New York City structures such as The Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, United Nations Building, Manhattan Supreme Court and others – has been recreating the mural on two large pieces of canvas in its studio on the west side of Manhattan.

“The Catalog Room sky mural holds its own as a singular mural but also connects with the three murals in the Rose Reading Room, opening up the ceilings with space and light,” says Bill Mensching, Director of Murals at EverGreene Architectural Arts. “Our goal as artists was to honor Finn’s concept, and complete the series of murals that are timeless in their clarity, movement and  gradations of color.”

“The murals are part of what makes these spaces glorious to inhabit,” adds Kim Lovejoy, Vice President for Restoration. Lead muralist on the project for EverGreene is artist Zinni Veshi.

The two completed canvases will be installed over the existing mural in the coming months. The cost of the recreation is about $45,000.

 

Media Contact:

Angela Montefinise | angelamontefinise@nypl.org

 

About The New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library serves more than 18 million patrons who come through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at www.nypl.org. To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at nypl.org/support.  

 

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