Wichita State’s Joan Miro mural, “Personnages Oiseaux,” will return to the Ulrich Museum of Art this fall after its five-year restoration. The first tiles have already been installed on the south façade of the museum.
Miro spent six years creating the massive 28-foot by 52-foot mural, which was installed in 1978. “Personnages Oiseaux,” or “bird characters,” is made of 1 million pieces of glass and marble and is one of Miro’s largest works of art in the United States. It was the only piece he ever created in the medium of glass and marble.
After spending more than 30 years exposed to the elements, the mural was in desperate need of a restoration. It was studied for two years to understand how it could best be conserved and in 2011 was taken down and sent to Russell-Marti Conservation Services in Missouri.
The original particleboard backing of the tiles was removed and replaced with stainless steel to prevent deterioration, and each piece of glass and marble was cleaned and repaired.
The fundraising goal for the mural restoration was $2.2 million, which was reached through donations from many individuals, corporations and foundations. The Institute for Museum and Library Services and the National Endowment for the Arts awarded more than $600,000 in competitive federal grants.
“It has been the face of the Ulrich since it was installed in 1978 and is a huge part of the museum’s identity,” said Jennifer Lane, public relations manager at the Ulrich. “The mural is not only a part of the museum’s identity, it is a part of Wichita State’s identity too.” A grand reveal and celebration is set for Sun., Oct. 30, 2 p.m. at the Ulrich Museum.