Ulrich receives grant for Miro project

Bob Workman said he remembers the first Miro mural installation, when he worked at the Ulrich Museum of Art. He was a Wichita State undergraduate. The year was 1978.

Now, as director of the Ulrich, Workman helps oversee the estimated $2.2 million mural conservation project. The artwork is a famous glass mosaic by Joan Miro called “Personnages Oiseaux (Bird People).”

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) recently awarded the Ulrich a $60,000 grant for the conservation project, which began in 2011 when the mural was removed from the Ulrich outside wall. 

The panels are now in storage, and the first group has been taken out for refurbishment.

“The conservation is quite elaborate,” Workman said.

The process involves removing the wood backing from the panel and reattaching the glass tiles to a metal panel.

“By the fall of 2016, we’ll be reinstalling it back on the building,” Workman said. “This grant is a continuation of funding for the conservation of the mural.” 

The project bill is footed by private funds and federal grants. Last year, the project received a $100,000 grant from the NEA.

“We are now getting very close to our final goal, and these federal dollars are just really important,” Workman said.

The conservation is being executed by Russell-Marti Conservation Services Inc., based in California. 

Workman said the piece was commissioned by the university. It’s one of only three Miro murals in the world.

“It’s really our signature work for the campus and for our collection,” he said.

It’s also the anchor of Wichita State’s outdoor art collection, which mainly consists of statues.

“It makes the arts available to everybody,” Workman said.