I am a curator in an historic house that is about to undergo some construction (updating electrical, repairs to floors, some plasterwork, painting) over the next four months. The museum is used as a gallery; it is not interpreted as an historic site. It has not been restored; it was renovated in the 1950s. Murals painted in the 1950s line the hallways and stairwell. The murals were painted on masonite and screwed in place; removing them and storing elsewhere is not an option. What kind of materials should we use to protect the murals during construction?
The contract has been awarded and the contractor is responsible for coming up with a system to protect the murals. They are receptive to my input, but want to do it as inexpensively as possible. While there will be dust, my main concern is protecting the murals from the workers, tools and materials that must pass through the halls/stairwell on their way to other work spaces. The murals are mounted above a 1950s chair rail, and in most places extend to the ceiling. The edge of the ceiling is trimmed with pieces of 1950s base molding. We can use the ceiling trim/chair rail to support the protection system.
My online research led to a mural conservation proposal that recommended protection in the form of ¾” plywood/particle board, with a continuous layer of 6 mil polyethylene sheeting between the board and the mural, with 2” of space between board/sheeting and the mural. This proposal also recommended using polyethylene foam on the perimeter to form a seal to limit dust and debris. The contractor wants to use homasote panels. Any thoughts? Other recommendations for materials? Thank you for your input.