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Gianfranco Pocobene Studio Begins Conservation of Historic “Stoneham, Yesterday and Today” Mural

STONEHAM – Stoneham Historical Society and Museum (SHSM) Treasurer Bee Russo is pleased to share that conservation and restoration work on the historic mural “Stoneham, Yesterday and Today” has begun at Gianfranco Pocobene Studio.

On Tuesday, Sept. 26, Director and Senior Paintings Conservator Gianfranco Pocobene and Associate Paintings Conservator Corrine Long welcomed members of SHSM to observe conservation and restoration work on the historic mural. 

To watch a video, click here. 

Conservators are currently working to clean the first of four panels. To clean the panel, Long uses a makeup sponge dipped in distilled water to loosen grime and dirt from the paint surface. She then uses cotton swabs with an aqueous cleaning solution to remove the dirt. Following cleaning, cracks in the paint will be filled using a method known as inpainting, and holes and tears in the canvas will be patched, toned and painted. The last step in the process is to put the canvas on stretchers for reinstallation, which will be done on-site at SHSM.

The restoration is part of the SHSM’s ongoing effort to preserve important pieces of the town’s history. The ambitious art project is funded entirely through grants and private donations. SHSM has raised $121,000 of its $150,000 goal to date.

To donate, click here

“It is truly amazing to watch as the mural is coming back to life,” said Treasurer Bee Russo. “We are grateful to Gianfranco and Corrine for the countless hours of work and care they have dedicated to the restoration of the mural.” 

Saving the Stoneham Mural

“Stoneham, Yesterday and Today” was painted by World War II combat artist Richard Gibney, and was unveiled at the Main Street branch of Middlesex County National Bank, later Bank of America, in 1968. It was a familiar sight to banking customers for more than 50 years.

The SHSM secured ownership of the mural ahead of the sale of the Main Street Bank of America branch and Gianfranco Pocobene Studio removed the mural in January 2022. At that time, it was placed in climate-controlled storage until a reinstallation location could be identified and funds could be raised to start the project. 

After exploring multiple options, it was determined the restored mural would be reinstalled at the SHSM, located at 36 Williams St. in Stoneham, in early 2024. The mural was removed from storage in February 2023 and moved to Pocobene Studio.