Beginning in February 2013, the murals in the Senate Reception Area of the Brumidi Corridors will be under restoration for at least eight months. Scaffolding will be in place for the work on the ceiling until late summer 2013, but the space will remain accessible. The ceiling and lunettes in this area will be restored through a combination of conservation and of replication in areas where it is not feasible to remove the overpaint without losing the original. The vertical wall panels will be conserved to reveal the original layer and the remaining walls will be restored through replication.
This work is part of an ongoing effort by the Architect of the Capitol and the United States Senate to restore the Brumidi Corridors to their original appearance. The murals on the first floor of the Senate-side (north wing) of the Capitol were designed and painted by and under the direction of Constantino Brumidi starting in the late 1850s. Brumidi based his decorative scheme for the ceilings and walls on Raphael’s Loggia in the Vatican.
The walls and ceiling decorations were repainted many times during the past 160 years. Before the current conservation program began, damaged or soiled murals were retouched, repainted and varnished by artists and decorative painters. Over time, Brumidi’s brilliant and subtle colors and details were lost under dark overpaint and yellowed varnish, losing the three-dimensional effects of which he was a master.