ST. LOUIS, MO.-
Conservators are treating the Saint Louis Art Museum
s Panorama of the Monumental Grandeur of the Mississippi Valley, and visitors are encouraged to watch the project in a niche in the southwest corner of Sculpture Hall.
Created in the mid-19th century by John J. Egan, the work consists of 350 feet of fabric that was scrolled horizontally from one roller to another to display 25 unique painted scenes. Panoramas were a popular 19th-century form of visual culture and entertainment. When shown in its original context, a panorama would have been rolled in front of the audience to offer a cinematographic experience to viewers. Over time, the repetitive scrolling could cause sections of paint to wear off, as well as other damage.
Panorama of the Monumental Grandeur of the Mississippi Valley is the only known Mississippi River panorama that exists today. It was in a state of disrepair until the museum began its conservation in 2011. Supportive metal drums and a custom-designed, motorized apparatus replaced the old wooden rollers of the spooling system. In the intervening years, numerous panels of the painting have been restored. This week, a team of conservators resumed this extensive project by treating and preserving the final three scenes.
Conservation is expected to continue through July. During the treatment in the museums Sculpture Hall, visitors are invited to observe the conservators as they work. Visit slam.org to learn about scheduled question-and-answer sessions led by conservators, curators and docents.