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Conservationists finish Grand Canyon watchtower mural work after 4 years

(NPS Photo/Sandy Graham)

PHOENIX — Conservationists have finished the four-year project to conserve five floors of murals in a Grand Canyon National Park watchtower.

The murals in the 70-foot Desert View Watchtower were painted in 1932, the year the structure was built near the park’s east entrance, according to a press release.

They were damaged by wind, rain and snow, which created salt deposits on the walls and cracked plaster.

The murals were also affected by human-caused wear and tear, including graffiti.

Speaking of Desert View Watchtower, here's a couple of 360° panoramas that show the tower from inside, and an exterior…

Posted by Grand Canyon National Park on Tuesday, October 1, 2019

“In the worst areas of damage, the conservationists filled deep gouges where names had been carved into historic window sills and staircases,” Jenn O’Neill, the park’s partnerships and planning coordinator, said in the release.

“They then used conservation toning techniques to recreate the natural pigments in the wood.”

She said a different removal technique was required for each method of graffiti, including permanent markers, nail polish and pens.

The Conservation Associates of Santa Fe, New Mexico, began work on the tower in 2015.

“This is the largest conservation project conducted within the tower since it was built and the murals were painted,” Craig Chenevert, the park’s historical architect, said in the release.

Funding from the project came Artplace America and National Trust for Historic Preservation grants.

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