The New York Public Library's Rose Reading Room and Bill Blass Catalog Room will be reopening this year after a two-year closure. And when they do, they'll look better than ever.
The rooms were closed off to the public following an incident in the Rose Reading Room in May of 2014, when a plaster rosette fell from the ceiling in the dead of night. Not only were there structural concerns, but upon further inspection asbestos was discovered in an attic.
Earlier this year we saw the eerily empty Rose Reading Room, and now the Library is sharing more from inside the Bill Blass Catalog Room. They've been recreating the mural by artist James Wall Finn for the ceiling. The 27-by-33-foot piece, which is being redone by EverGreene Architectural Arts, depicts the sky, and has been in the room since 1911. Why replace it? They explained:
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.
You can see the mural work in this timelapse:
"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 canvases, which totaled about $45,000, will be installed in the coming months, prior to a Fall reopening. The adjacent Rose Reading Room murals were redone by the same group in 1998, so they are not being replaced.