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Oklahoma panel discusses protecting state Capitol artwork

Cost estimates of at least two proposals for preserving artwork in the Capitol will be presented by year's end to members of the Oklahoma State Capitol Preservation Commission.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Modified: October 18, 2012 at 10:11 pm •  Published: October 19, 2012

Screen materials are the best option to reduce sunlight coming through the state Capitol dome windows that is damaging portraits and murals, an expert in the care of paintings said Thursday.

Lyzanne Gann, a conservator with Blackthorne Associates, said customized acrylic storm windows would be more affordable, but would block out less light and would have to be replaced often because they lose their effectiveness.

Gann, of Dallas, said much of the cost with screening involves the installation of scaffolding so workers can install it. The expense could be reduced substantially if the screening would be installed at the same time repairs and renovations are made to the Capitol.

The Capitol's architect has said the nearly 100-year-old crumbling building needs about $160 million of exterior and interior repairs as well as replacing outdated plumbing and electrical wiring. Lawmakers have yet to agree on a way to pay for the work.

“As long as you're taking the time to address other issues in the building, try and get your timing coordinating and address those issues,” she told members of the State Capitol Preservation Commission. “The largest hurdle is deciding to do it and then committing funding for it.”

Commission Chairman Richard Ellwanger appointed several commissioners to join him in reviewing proposals and developing cost estimates. He said he hopes to present estimates on two proposals at the commission's meeting in December.

The dome erected 10 years ago contains windows that allow light to directly fall on the surface of several works of art. Sunlight reflected on the marble floor also is reaching paintings hung in corridors.

“Something's got to be done,” Ellwanger said. “We've talked about it for 10 years.”

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I do feel that coming up with the money is actually the easy part. The hard part is deciding what appropriate action to take.”

Richard Ellwanger

State Capitol Preservation Commission Chairman


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