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Capitol Colors: Paint Analysis of the Memorial Stair at the US Capitol
Meyerson Hall Upper Gallery
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When Charles Bulfinch became Architect of the US Capitol in 1818, his assignment was twofold: to complete the restoration begun by his predecessor, Henry Benjamin Latrobe following the War of 1812. And to move forward with design and construction of the central section of the building connecting the Senate and House of Representatives Wings. In addition to realizing Latrobe’s designs, Bulfinch made important contributions to the building in his own style. One such example was the staircase known today as the Memorial Stair located adjacent to the Rotunda at the south House side (ca. 1828).
The historic architectural finishes of this important space have never previously been analyzed. By correlating paint layers with historic periods through research and scientific analysis it is possible to shed light on the architectural evolution, changes and intended appearance of the space at various historic periods while contributing to the Architect of the Capitol’s more than 30 year effort to shed light on the history of architectural finishes throughout the building.
Cassie Myers, Conservator and HSPV Lecturer will describe the 2020-21 project to analyze the architectural finishes of Bulfinch’s ca. 1828 stair. She will include discussion of the complexities of the analysis, differences and similarities with finishes in adjacent spaces and some surprising results found by making historic paints.
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Catherine Myers (Cassie) is a paintings and architectural conservator in private practice in Philadelphia, PA. For more than 30 years, her firm, Myers Conservation, addresses complex conservation problems involving mural paintings, decorative architectural paintings, ornamental historic plasters, and architectural finishes throughout the country on conservation planning, testing, analysis, and treatment projects.
Previously Myers worked in the conservation departments of North Carolina Museum of Art, the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum and the Brooklyn Museum. More recently she served as a Fine Arts Specialist in the Office of the Chief Architect of US General Services Administration, Fine Arts Program in Washington, DC and as a Senior Project Manager at the Getty Conservation Institute in Los Angeles.
Myers teaches a graduate seminar on Architectural Finishes and advises thesis students in the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a Professional Associate member of the American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) and a member of the Conservation Committee of the International Council on Museums.