Aaron Bohrod mural in danger

At long last, Madison, Wis., is poised to get a new central library branch.  Although the current building dates only to 1965, it's a pretty bleak, worn space.  I'm glad to see the city move ahead with this, especially in a tough economy.

But there's one aspect of the planning that's uncertain and quite troubling.  A mural by the regionalist Aaron Bohrod, a former WPA artist whose work was also featured in the pages of Life, Time and Look magazines, is in danger.  It's unclear if and how it will be preserved when the existing library is demolished.

For details, see Jay Rath's Nov. 13 article in Isthmus, "Will the Aaron Bohrod mural at the downtown Madison library survive?"  As Jay notes, a John Steuart Curry work elsewhere in town (on the UW campus) is being preserved amid construction.  Curry's gig as artist-in-residence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (in the College of Agriculture, no less) was the first time any university had set up such an arrangement.

It would be a great shame if, as Madison moves ahead with one worthy cultural goal, it lets another one--preserving our heritage--fall by the wayside.

Update added Dec. 2:

The Wisconsin State Journal reported last week that the city has hired a conservator to study ways the mural might be preserved.  For details, see Dean Mosiman's article from Nov. 26.
November 17, 2009 3:22 PM | | Comments (2)

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Hi Karin:

Thanks for posting an update. The original post was quite old (from fall 2009) and there has indeed been great work to preserve the Bohrod mural--even using the same conservators who worked on the Curry murals in the UW Biochemistry Bldg. This is essentially a dormant blog, but your update is important, so thanks for including it.

Jennifer Smith

Just wanted to update you that the Bohrod mural was saved and restored and will be available to view in fall when the new Madison Central Library re-opens. The mural has been through quite a lot, during the demolition work on the old library it had its own little climate controlled room built around it. I'm so proud of the citizens and the City leaders who choose to prioritize saving this important local mural.

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