Earlier this year, the State of Louisiana contracted with McKay Lodge Art Conservation Laboratory, Inc. to evaluate the feasibility, and design a plan, for the relocation of a large mosaic by Louisiana artist Conrad Albrizio. Now the state has asked the company to perform the relocation and mounting work during the summer of 2008, just ahead of demolition of its building.
McKay Lodge, Inc. President Robert Lodge is an expert in the rare work of mosaic and wall tile art removal, restoration, mounting and relocation. He studied mosaic relocation methodology and published a pioneering method for remounting a removed and damaged concrete-bound ancient Antioch mosaic as part of his graduate school work for a Master of Science in Art Conservation degree in 1982.
In 2005, McKay Lodge Art Conservation Laboratory , Inc. safely removed, restored and installed elsewhere another mosaic by Conrad Albrizio located in Mobile, Alabama. The Alabama mosaic was adhered to a concrete wall. The mosaic tiles were safely removed and remounted onto lightweight aluminum panels.
McKay Lodge, Inc. has the capability to completely remove concrete from the back of mosaic tesserae and tiles so that the mosaic media can be adhered directly to lightweight aluminum panels. A specially formulated adhesive capable of bonding to aluminum and to ceramic materials is required. Most adhesives, such as epoxies, bond well to one but not the other material.
Typically, each lightweight modular panel bearing a section of the mosaic or tile artwork can be handled by two people during the reinstallation process. To achieve this low weight, all concrete and mortar must be removed from the reverse of the tiles or tesserae – this is the most difficult phase of the work. Each modular panel joins with another to recreate the original configuration with hardly visible joint lines. Such mounted mosaic or tile artworks are then easily relocatable again in the future for either temporary exhibitions or changes in ownership with new display locations.
The New Orleans mosaic measures 12 feet tall and 20 feet wide and is made of thousands of fragile colored glass tesserae produced in the famous mosaic glass works of Venice, Italy. The mosaic is bonded to a concrete wall located on the second floor of the State Office Building. The building was irreparably damaged during hurricane Katrina and is slated for demolition this summer. The mosaic will be strategically divided into ten sections, each removed with its portion of concrete wall and brought out of the building to the ground through a window.