The Legal and Ethical Consideration of Mural Conservation: Issues and Debates
The following essay was originally presented at "Mural Painting and Conservation in the Americas", a two-day symposium sponsored by the Getty Research Institute and the Getty Conservation Institute, May 16—17, 2003, at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.
At this event, a cross-disciplinary roster of art historians, conservators, and artists discussed the social, artistic, and political dimensions of murals, the value they hold for different constituencies, and the rationale and conservation techniques for ensuring their long-term survival.
This essay begins with a discussion of the federal law, the Visual Artists Rights Act, known by the acronym of VARA then discusses California law and the California Art Preservation Act (CAPA). Federal law is discussed first is because the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution gives federal law preemption over state law. Neither law mandates conservation.
The second part of the discussion concerns itself with the application of VARA and CAPA to the conservator and to the building owner wanting to either commission a mural, conserve a mural, or destroy a mural.