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Mural treatment completed at the Baltimore Custom House

Conservationists and GSA representatives examining a ceiling mural.
Intricate crown moulding surrounded by maritime-themed murals in the Baltimore Custom House.

In late 2022, Page Conservation, Inc. completed major conservation of Francis Davis Millet’s 91 mural series “The Evolution of Navigation” in the Call Room of the Baltimore Custom House.

Created in 1907 and last fully cleaned in the 1970s, Millet’s murals decorate the ceiling, coves, cornices and walls of the Call Room. The murals extend across the ceiling and cove to depict the history of maritime navigation. The central ceiling panel measures 68 by 30 feet, and the series includes more than 125 different ships and vessels, from ancient Egyptian ships to J.P. Morgan’s yacht, the Corsair.

Complex scaffolding rising up to the central ceiling panel

Millet died just a few years after these murals were completed, perishing along with over 1,500 others in the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic in 1912.

Over the past several years, Page Conservation has worked incrementally to conserve the entire Call Room mural series. Treatment included surface cleaning, correcting damage from water intrusion, inpainting and re-adhering separated canvas.

This final treatment phase took over one year to complete as Page worked their way around the room on multi-level scaffolding. GSA’s Donna Andrews, Rodney Donald, Kathy Erickson and Kerry Rose managed the project.