The rescue and conservation of the Lost Shul Mural

Richard L. Kerschner and Constance S. Silver


This article describes how an interdisciplinary team worked together over two years to stabilize, protect, and move a 105-year-old triptych mural from the former Chai Adam Synagogue to the Ohavi Zedek Synagogue in Burlington, Vermont. The mural is a rare surviving example of traditional Eastern European painted synagogue art following the destruction of nearly every synagogue in Eastern Europe during the Holocaust. Flaking paint was consolidated and secured to the plaster, and layers of darkened varnish and dirt were partially removed from the mural. To ensure the mural’s safety during the relocation process, it was faced with Crepeline adhered with Paraloid B67 followed by cyclododecane reinforced with fiberglass Micro-mesh. Foam-lined plywood panels were secured against the faced mural to provide uniform, rigid support during the move. A permanent steel framework was built around the roof section of the apse that contained the mural to minimize movement of the plaster-on-lath during extrication and transport of the mural, and to enable the mural to be suspended safely in the lobby of Ohavi Zedek Synagogue.

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2016 | Montreal | Volume 23