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Subject: Spanish Mural

Spanish Mural

From: Mary Fahey <maryf<-at->
Date: Wednesday, September 5, 2012
John Greenwood <john.greenwood [at] canberra__edu__au> writes

>Restoration? of the Spanish Mural: Speaking out for the octogenarian
>    See
>    <URL:>
>...  I find it sad
>that the elderly woman who repainted it is being referred to as
>unspeakable and she should be condemned.  I feel it does highlight
>some very important issues that as conservators we should discuss.
>If, as I imagine, the elderly woman was a parishioner in the church
>and she loved and cherished the mural, then what she did was done in
>good faith. ...
>If there are any Spanish conservators who live nearby then go and
>give her a bunch of flowers and show your support for her strength
>of feeling and faith.  Perhaps involve her in the tidying up of the
>mural, if that is thought necessary and introduce her to the ideas
>and practices of conservation.  Never too late to learn.

I agree with John Greenwood that it is very sad that the elderly
woman is being made to feel like a villain if her intention was to
"preserve" the painting.

In the past we have addressed incidents of deliberate vandalism by
turning them into "teachable moments' that involved the vandals in
the conservation process. Granted these projects had a somewhat
limited and punitive tone due to the circumstances and the young age
of the vandals.

In the case of the elderly woman a respectful educational approach
would have been suitable.

Surely others have encountered situations in which well meaning
staff or volunteers have taken it upon them selves to repair or
clean something in a manner that is inappropriate, albeit not
generally as spectacularly as in the case of the Spanish woman.

As a conservator I value artifacts and artwork but they are objects
to be used to for the benefit of humanity. It is important to keep
things in perspective; we need to maintain our own humanity while we
preserve artifacts for future generations.

Mary Fahey
Chief Conservator/Head of Preservation
Henry Ford Museum
20900 Oakwood
Dearborn, Michigan 48124

                  Conservation DistList Instance 26:16
                Distributed: Saturday, September 8, 2012
                       Message Id: cdl-26-16-005
Received on Wednesday, 5 September, 2012

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