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The Art on the Walls

Windows on the Pavilion are getting the spa treatment before returning to service. Unlike many modern windows built as an integrated unit, the windows on historic homes and other old buildings were designed to be repaired indefinitely.
Windows on the Pavilion are getting the spa treatment before returning to service. Unlike many modern windows built as an integrated unit, the windows on historic homes and other old buildings were designed to be repaired indefinitely.

Family heirlooms in the Pavilion were not limited to fine china, furniture, and silver. Nearly one hundred framed paintings, prints, and works of embroidery were displayed throughout the building including family portraits and landscapes memorializing Ticonderoga and Lake Champlain. Some of these works of fine art will be displayed in the Pavilion after its restoration. However, the significant seasonal changes in temperature and relative humidity that we experience here on the shores of Lake Champlain can have an extreme effect on paintings because the layers of different materials that make up a finished painting absorb moisture and change shape at different rates. The canvas backing moves much more readily than the rigid layer of gesso and paint on top of it. Over time, the shifts in the canvas weaken the attachments between the canvas, gesso, and paint layer, causing paint or even gesso to flake away.

A selection of paintings from the Pavilion currently in controlled storage at the Thompson-Pell Research Center
A selection of paintings from the Pavilion currently in controlled storage at the Thompson-Pell Research Center.

In order to return some of the fine art to the Pavilion, it will need much better climate control than it had in the past. Luckily, this is an essential component of its restoration and adaptive reuse–with staff in the building year-round, the summer home will be insulated and heated. Previous updates touched on the restoration team’s work to make the exterior of the building as sound as possible by restoring the foundation and bringing the walls back to true. With the structure leveled and secure, rebuilt and restored windows can be added and squared to prevent leaks. Before too long, the building will be ready for art once again, and better prepared to house it.

Stay tuned here and on Fort Ticonderoga’s Facebook page for updates on the restoration of the Pavilion, new discoveries, and more from Fort Ticonderoga every week.