If you’ve walked its hallways, it is almost impossible to escape the beauty that surrounds them. From the ornately decorated vaulted ceilings above the elevator banks to the mythological figures symbolizing the courage, perseverance, progressiveness and energy of the people of Los Angeles, the work of art continues into the East Lobby. The central dome murals illustrate Earth, Wind, Water and Fire. Other murals depict themes of Science, Civil Engineering, Mechanical Power, Commerce and more. Los Angeles City Hall is perhaps the foremost symbol of our great metropolis and it has stood tall for almost 90 years. Preserving this crown jewel for generations to come has been Project Restore’s top priority.
North Hallway on the third floor where emergency treatment was needed
Originally painted by two famous artisans (Anthony Heinsbergen and Herman Sachs), the murals in Los Angeles City Hall are suffering from flaking and deterioration. After the seismic retrofit and historic restoration of City Hall in 2001, inevitable humidity fluctuations and visitor traffic have caused significant damage. Spotting the damage is sometimes difficult due to the high ceilings, but paint has been gradually chipping and falling to the floor.
These murals are located on the ceilings of several floors and rooms of City Hall including the City Council Chamber, Board of Public Works Session Room, Rotunda, Main Street Lobby, Mayor’s Office, and the Tom Bradley Room. It is critical to save the historic artwork since most of it is original.
First Street Entrance Temple Street Entrance
Project Restore is currently implementing the first stages of a long-term plan for the conservation of over 50,000 square feet of decorative paint and murals. Following a year of field research, paint analysis and a complete survey of the building’s environmental readings, we developed our current in-depth conservation and restoration plan.
East Rotunda flaking and paint loss
In progress with large panels completed
Decorative paint/murals conservator Zebala & Partners was hired by Project Restore to thoroughly examine the murals. After several months of exploration work, the conservators identified a few areas that needed immediate attention and repairs. As a result, they are currently working on repairs to the third floor’s East Rotunda and they have also developed a comprehensive cost estimate for the murals’ conservation effort.
East Rotunda Conservator speaking to Los Angeles Conservancy’s tour group
It is our goal to raise sufficient funds to complete the full restoration and preservation of our decorative paint and ceiling murals in all of the public spaces at Los Angeles City Hall.
Photo credits: Zebala & Partners and Raymond Kwan