Cultivating Cultural Connections
COSE Arts, Business and Innovation Winner:
The Intermuseum Conservation Association’s community partnerships
are helping build appreciation for all types of art.
Northeast Ohio is rich with cultural material, from murals painted on buildings during the days of the Works Progress Administration’s
(WPA) federal art program to the numerous
renowned institutions that house fine
artwork. Sculptures, paintings, textiles—
and other works all represent opportunities
for people to build a connection with the
art, with each other and their environment.
Focused on preserving these works is The
Intermuseum Conservation Association
(ICA), a 60-year old organization dedicated
to cleaning, repairing and restoring art and
objects of cultural and personal significance.
ICA’s recent partnerships have made a real
grassroots impact on the region.
“We continue to broaden the scope
of the organization’s visibility through
its involvement in even more significant
and important community projects,” says
Albert Albano, executive director of ICA,
which is the recipient of a COSE Arts
Business;&;Innovation;Award;in;the;non-profit organization category.
Specifically, ICA partnered with
Cuyahoga Municipal Housing Authority
(CMHA) and Cleveland State University
(CSU) to recover and restore murals at
Valleyview Home Estates, which was taken
down to build CMHA’s Tremont Pointe.
The three stakeholders worked together
to disassemble and preserve the murals
created in the 1930s by renowned local
African American artist Elmer Brown.
“Through partnership with the CMHA,
we helped them appreciate and understand
what the material is, and in the process of
doing that, they have become incredibly
committed, responsible and enthusiastic
stewards of this material,” Albano says.
Those murals were reinstalled at CSU’s
student union building and are now
viewed by thousands of people, Albano
points out. “It was a tremendous win for
everyone,” he says.
Another project Albano is quite proud of
is the recovery of a collection of playground
animals created by Edris Eckhardt and
others. “They had become almost unrecog-
nizable because of their state of deteriora-
tion,” he says, noting that of the two dozen
created, nine sculptures remained and just
four—a walrus, frog, squirrel and par-
rot—were recognizable. “Based on extensive
research we did, we found substantial period
documentation including newspaper photos
and clippings and a photograph of models
that were made for review and approval for
the animals to be constructed,” Albano says.
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