Art Restoration

Conservation is a hot topic when it comes to protecting our resources – not just in agriculture or environmental science – it’s important in the art world, too.

While care and restoration are the key to art conservation, today it’s also combined with a need to preserve our history.  Art and culture go hand in hand.

Museums have been the leaders of art conservation since the 19th century.  But now airports are among the new venues that exhibit art not only for its aesthetic value, but to send a message to future audiences.

A year-long collaboration between MSP International, Airport Foundation MSP and creative media artists Mike and Abigail Mouw resulted in the restoration of decade-old artwork commissioned for the airport light rail transfer station – and a lesson in art conservation, restoration and sustainability.


Before restoration.













Architects from HGA Minneapolis and airport officials who designed the terminal entry commissioned the Mouws to create rich, multi-layered images of Minnesota reflecting the beauty of the state’s prairies, rivers and forests.

The images were then installed in 10 light boxes that became part of a permanent wall display at the light rail transfer station.

But time and failing materials led to the decay of the light boxes; Principal architects on the commissioned artwork project moved away or transferred to new projects.  Maintenance workers were unaware of the sensitive needs of the display – leaving the gel screens with a weathered, neglected look.

During the restoration process.












Concerned the damaged artwork sent a message of indifference, the Arts and Culture department undertook the exhaustive task of researching the commissioned project to its beginnings and implemented a program of restoration, sustainability and conservation.

The damaged light box gels were replaced with stronger UV resistant gels created by the artists and Graphic Systems of Minneapolis, preventing dyes from fading under fluorescent lights.  Arts and culture also worked with MAC Facilities to collaborate on a maintenance plan that ensures regular inspection of the light boxes, periodic education of maintenance staff on handling the display and preventing future damage.

The restoration of the commissioned light boxes renews our promise to enhance the traveler’s perception of our community and establish our airport as the gateway to Minnesota arts and culture.


After the restoration was complete.