Art Conservation Mural Survey Reported To TSU Mural Task Force- Save The Murals Initiative

Save The Murals is a campaign that looks like “it’s got legs!” Texas Southern University has been focusing on taking care of their heritage and collection of 123 murals by African American artists (see Intro Video at since the second half of last year when an international outcry was heard at the painting-out of two murals by well known artist Harvey Johnson. A set back in and of itself, the act truly catalyzed an effort and an awareness to protect and save what now makes up an important part of the TSU art collection and an important national contribution to black art in America, both historical and contemporary. Mural painting has been part of the curriculum at TSU since 1949 when it was directed by John T. Biggers and Harvey Johnson.

TSU Mural by John T. Biggers

Mural by John T. Biggers at TSU

Thursday, February 23 was a big day in the process of moving the discussion forward for the Save The Murals process. In the morning, I met with TSU President Dr. John M. Rudley who confirmed his interest and passion for the finest works on campus. He has approved the art conservation and restoration of murals by John T. Biggers, whom he knew personally. He also encouraged the fundraising for the art conservation of the rest of the collection under the guidance and efforts of the University Museum, under whose care the murals now are. He was very complimentary about the quality of the efforts and report by Scott Haskins and FACL, Inc. resulting from the mural collection survey and acknowledged its great worth in moving forward.

As a side note, I enjoyed very much meeting and talking with Dr. Rudley’s extremely gracious wife, Dr. Docia Rudley, at a recent University Museum opening whom the Texas Southern University Museum considers a strong supporter and advocate for the arts and the museum’s efforts. This Power Couple is indeed a great asset for the preservation, art conservation and restoration of this very unique collection of African American art.

In the afternoon, I met with a very impressive gathering of 20 professionals from the community who make up the Mural Task Force. Coming from institutions and businesses in Houston, they were art dealers, painting conservators, directors of some of Houston’s most prestigious museums and private collections, important collectors, professional consultants, Deans of depts., professors, curators, inner college upper administration, grant writers, urban planners and the office of Shiela Lee and Janice Weaver, Congresswoman. Wow… and you thought this Save The Murals was a “little deal?!”

I reported to the Mural Task Force the results of the mural collection survey which was very enthusiastic about the quality of the survey and the way the details and statistics were reported. See blog post at

The survey outlines the priorities and conditions of the murals and during our meeting, ideas were presented about raising funds for both short term emergencies and long term care. Their collective professionalism and potential public outreach is huge and is being marshaled for the benefit of the preservation, art conservation and restoration of this beautiful and monumental mural collection.

Stay tuned for the next blog post… I’ll clue you in on my proposal to reach out with an essential art and family history related hurricane preservation message that could reach many millions of people, including corporate America, university campuses and alumni. It will be a huge opportunity for a corporate sponsor to connect and influence with their brand or corporate image.  Save Your Stuff LLC will be giving away profits from sales and services to this Save The Murals initiative.

The Task Force will meet again in two weeks. But I won’t be in attendance. My job now, is to organize and make proposals for this outreach effort.

Btw, you may download free the pamphlet distributed at the National Hurricane Conference that helps prepare art related items for when the building starts to shake. Go to This is essential emergency preparedness info that may be reproduced and distributed in your organization or office. The Bank of America Corp distributed over 500,000 copies of the earthquake version of this pamphlet through their HR Depts.

Would you like me to custom label this info for your company? Give me a call at 888 704 7757.

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TSU Mural Art Conservation Survey Completed- Surprising Results

The mural conservation survey to inventory the murals and review their art conservation, preservation and art restoration needs was completed and reported on the week ending on February 4th. But there’s a surprising twist! The inventory estimate count had been 168 murals in prior years but only 123 showed up in this survey! So, how do you loose a mural?! Well, yes, murals can be painted out but that’s not the case here for 45 missing murals!

This was not the first time that a count was made of the murals but previously the good faith effort was made by students under the direction of faculty. Many of the murals are made up of multiple panels or sections and apparently got inventoried as separate works of art…. hence the discrepancy.

Now that the survey is done, the results will be [resented to a "Mural Task Force" organized with experts from outside of the TSU campus, to discuss the results and plan for the future. Stay tuned! I'm giving a presentation to the Mural Task Force on February 23rd.

TSU Murals Flaking

TSU's Mural of Flaking Jazz Musicians

Conservation questions? Call Scott Haskins toll free 888 704 7757

Appraisal Questions? Go to


See videos on and search for “bestartdoc”

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Testing the Removal of Overpaint from Murals by Harvey Johnson

I knew that the paint used for Harvey Johnson’s murals was probably acrylic but I wasn’t sure what the original artwork was painted with. It took about 5 minutes to quickly figure out that it too was done in acrylic… about 45 years ago.  Also, I quickly discovered that as I rub with a solvent that dissolves the top layer of paint… I’ll dissolve the original paint too. That’s not good.

Then I tried a citris product that swells the overpaint and I can peel it off like taking skin off of a sunburn! Anyone need a job? I started out with a couple of  2″ x 2″ squares but I’m going to clean off a spot about 12″ x 12″ just to get a good look tomorrow.

TSU has some great paintings an I am really enjoying my week here. This is Scott Haskins, over and out… till tomorrow.

Murals at TSU

A detail of a mural at Texas Southern University.

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