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Preserving Mexican murals in S.F.

Preserving Mexican murals in S.F.

Art conservation is a meticulous craft that's usually hidden from view. Now through April in an exhibit in San Francisco's M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, you can watch conservators working on murals from Teotihuacan--Mexico's ancient city and ceremonial center.

You'll see how dirt and minerals, encrusted on the delicate painted surfaces after at least 13 centuries of burial and decay, are removed to reveal elaborate images of undulating feathered serpents, flowering trees, defiant warrior birds, and striding priest deities. In an adjacent gallery, wall displays and a 10-minute video presentation explain the process in detail.

The blue, green, black, and ocher murals once adorned the walls of domestic compounds at Teotihuacan--the first major urban center in what scholars call Middle America. Crudely removed in the 1960s, more than 70 fragments surfaced in a private collection that was willed to the museum in 1976. Once conservation work has been completed, half of the mural fragments will return to Mexico and the rest will remain in the museum.

The museum is in Golden Gate Park. Hours: 10 to 5 Wednesdays through Sundays. Admission: $2 for adults, 50 cents children 5 through 17 and seniors, free for all on the first Wednesday of each month and 10 to noon Saturdays. For other museum information, call (415) 750-3659.

Photo: Ancient fragments depict warrior bird. Behind glass at rear, conservators brush and clean painted surfaces
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Title Annotation:San Francisco's M.H. de Young Memorial Museum
Date:Oct 1, 1984
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