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Council Gets Update On Murals Coming From Airport

An artist rendering of where the nine murals will be displayed along Central Avenue.
An artist rendering of where the nine murals will be displayed along Central Avenue.
Rendering of the historic mosaic murals that will be installed at the Duke Energy Convention Center.  The 9 murals are now located at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
Credit Provided / City of Cincinnati
Rendering of the historic murals to be installed on the west side of the Duke Energy Convention Center.

Crews are building the foundations that will support nine historic murals heading to the Duke Energy Convention Center from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.  

The murals, once housed at Union Terminal, are being moved as part of a terminal demolition project.  

They will be placed in a glass enclosure on the outside of the convention center along Central Avenue.  

Some council members and residents have expressed concerns about the murals being exposed to sunlight.

City facilities manager Joel Koopman said officials considered that and went to see how they are installed at the airport.  

"One of the murals has the exact same orientation that we're putting them in and no though was actually given to preventing the daylight from hitting it," Koopman said.  "We've gone down, we've checked it out.  You can't even tell any effect."

Koopman credits the process used when the murals were originally constructed in the 1930s.

Even with that assurance, Paul Muller with the Cincinnati Preservation Society is still worried about sunlight.

"But there is chemistry here. There's ultraviolet damage and there's also radiant damage from the sun which expands and contracts plaster. There are environmental conditions which need to be maintained," Muller said.  "An art museum, I guarantee you, would not put work like this in a west facing glass case."

Muller is offering to help the city raise private funds for automatic window shades to protect the murals during some parts of the day.  Koopman said they will consider that offer.  

Koopman said the city did the best it could since it only had from July until December to find a site. The airport had plans to begin removing the murals at the beginning of the year.

"What I really want is a secure place where the public can still enjoy the artwork and where the risk of damage is really minimal," said council member Wendell Young.  "And I don't view the current location as meeting all that criteria."

Fourteen murals were relocated from Union Terminal to the airport in the 1970s and nine of them are located in Terminals 1 and 2.

Those two terminals will soon be demolished to make way for a consolidated rental car facility.

The mosaics are by artist Winold Reiss. The remaining works from the original commission are seen in the Union Terminal rotunda.

The airport board will cover the approximate $1.5 million cost of removing, crating and transporting the murals to the convention center. The city will pay about $750,000 to unpack and place them.

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