The removal of the Klir Beck Dioramas, or, What I did on my summer vacation

Ron Harvey, Gary Hoyle, Paul Cartwright, and Scott Mosher

Abstract

The State House in Augusta, Maine is currently undergoing a four-year restoration project. The original building was designed by Charles Bulfinch and constructed in 1832. The South wing, a 1910 addition, was the site of the Old Museum until 1969 when a new building was constructed to house the Maine State Museum, Library and Archives.

Although the museum moved into the new building and opened to the public in 1971, four wildlife habitat dioramas remained in the South Wing of the State house. The dioramas were created by the Maine State Museum Curator Klir Beck between 1957-1958. The dioramas are composed of curved plaster shells with painted interior surfaces, foreground scenery, textured floors, taxidermy specimens and interior lighting.

One element of the State House renovation includes the removal and relocation of the four natural history dioramas. Tuckerbrook Conservation was contracted to review the dioramas and determine if they could be safely removed and relocated. This paper addresses the strategies, process and materials incorporated in Phase I, assessment and removal of the dioramas from the State House building.