McEwan Hall (The University of Edinburgh)
The McEwan Hall is the University of Edinburgh’s Graduation Hall and principal ceremonial space. The category A-listed building was designed by Sir Rowand Anderson in 1896-7. The interior is built in Italian Renaissance style, and features mural decoration by William Mainwaring Palin.
As part of refurbishment and extension of the building, Scottish Wall Paintings Conservators were commissioned to carry out conservation works on the extensive murals scheme in the Main Hall, Galleries, Dome and Dignitaries Staircase.
The project was supervised by Head Conservators Fiona Allardyce (now retired) and Karen Dundas, who headed a core team of six conservators, conservation interns and a rota of University of Edinburgh architectural conservation student volunteers.
Conservation work was successfully coordinated on a large-scale construction site, and was completed on time and on budget. Student volunteer involvement (including health and safety training and equipment) was arranged and organised by Scottish Wall Paintings Conservators with the permission and assistance of the Main Contractor.
Following an initial trial period and samples analysis, the treatment process involved:
- Surface cleaning and removal of discoloured varnish;
- Actively flaking/detached paint consolidation;
- Loose and detached plaster consolidation;
- Filling of plaster cracks and larger plaster losses;
- Reintegration of paint losses;
- Re-varnishing where required;
- Re-gilding losses where required.
All stages of treatment were carefully and methodically recorded. Materials used in treating the paintings were conservation grade and completely reversible