Miró conservation fundraising campaign declared a success

The effort by the WSU Foundation and the Ulrich Museum will raise $2.2 million

Clark Bastian ’75, Fidelity Bank CEO, stands next to one of the Miró panel replicas that donors of $25,000 or more received during the fundraising campaign.
Clark Bastian ’75, Fidelity Bank CEO, stands next to one of the Miró panel replicas that donors of $25,000 or more received during the fundraising campaign. Fidelity Bank Foundation contributed $100,000 to the campaign.

Amajor campaign by the WSU Foundation and the Ulrich Museum of Art to raise $2.2 million to restore the iconic Miró mosaic is coming to a successful close, with campaign leaders projecting that the total amount will be raised.

Unveiling of the Miró mural, 1978

Personnages Oiseaux (Bird People) by Spanish modern artist Joan Miró. The Miró mural was unveiled in 1978 and is currently being restored.

 The Miró restoration: A  progress report

    The 26-by-52 foot glass-and-marble mosaic by Spanish modern artist Joan Miró was de-installed in the fall of 2011 to begin a five-year-long conservation project, which is occurring at the Russell-Marti Conservation Services facility in Missouri. Re-installation will take place in fall 2016.
Bob Workman, director of the Ulrich Museum of Art, gives this progress report:

    “More than one-third of the panels have received — or are about to receive — structural treatment. That is the most demanding and time-consuming part of the restoration. The original marine particle board backing of each panel must first be carefully removed in a process that begins with power saws and ends with dental picks. Before removing the backing, the front tesserae of each panel are encased in a rubber mastic that secures each stone or piece of glass while exactingly retaining the original design of the artist. Once the wood backing is removed, the tesserae are joined to a new perforated metal panel designed to hold the stones and glass in place and also withstand the expansion and contraction caused by the extremes of weather. With the structural treatment complete, the face of each panel receives a very careful cleaning. This process is repeated on each panel until the entire mural is restored.”

    So far, slightly more than $2 million has been pledged. Pending federal grant applications are expected to be successful, said Ulrich Director Bob Workman.

    “We’re very proud that our Miró conservation campaign is such an outstanding example of public/private partnership,” Workman said. “The Miró mural conservation is now nationally recognized for not only the importance of the project, but also the outstanding level of public support to assure its success.”

    After WSU leaders selected the Miró project as the university’s top capital fundraising priority in 2009 and 2010, the WSU Foundation and the Ulrich created a volunteer committee to lead fundraising efforts. The committee was co-chaired by Mike Michaelis, chairman of the board of Emprise Bank, and Chris Shank ’69, account executive for Willis Insurance.

    Michaelis noted that all of the committee members made lead gifts to the project, which was viewed as important for motivating other donors and persuading them of its importance.

    “As you can imagine, raising money to conserve an object is much harder to do than raising money to buy a new object, or build something new,” Michaelis said. “Trying to get people to understand the importance of the Miró project was challenging at times. Ultimately, we were successful in communicating its value not only as a piece of art but also as an icon for the university and, indeed, for the city of Wichita.”

    One strategy to inspire donations, he said, was offering to give donors of $25,000 or more a scaled-down replica of one of the 80 panels that make up the Joan Miró mosaic, titled “Personnages Oiseaux (Bird People).”

    Fidelity Bank Foundation received four of the panels for its $100,000 pledge. The foundation’s donation was inspired in part because of the role that the late Marvin Bastian, then Fidelity Bank president, played in helping Wichita State acquire the mosaic, said Fidelity CEO Clark Bastian ’75, Marvin’s son.

    “We were instantly committed to supporting the restoration because of our father’s involvement in the original campaign,” Clark Bastian said of Fidelity Bank Foundation, whose directors then included his brother, Clay, and sister, Christine ’79.

    Bastian, who also is a member of the WSU Foundation Board of Directors, said he recognized that raising money for the restoration was an arduous task.

“It's a real upbeat story about the citizens of Wichita and Kansas sharing their money and saving the Miró." 

- Mike Michaelis,
co-chair of the Miró Mosaic Conservation Campaign

    “Fortunately, Mike Michaelis and Chris Shank had the passion and perseverance to lead the fundraising and deserve big kudos,” he said.

    Had the campaign to restore and conserve the Miró not been successful, the university would have had to take steps to prevent the deterioration from getting worse, Workman said.

    “The mural was literally crumbling due to the impact of extreme Kansas weather,” he said. “Had we not had the resources to restore the mural to its original splendor, the artwork would have eventually had to be removed and stored in order to keep as much intact as possible.”

    That would have been a terrible loss, Michaelis said, for a university that has come to regard the Miró as a visual symbol of Wichita State and a spectacular welcome to those entering campus from the south.

    “We’re going to be very excited to see it back up on the face of the Ulrich,” he said. “It’s a real upbeat story about the citizens of Wichita and Kansas sharing their money and saving the Miró. I’m just happy to have been a part of it.”




circle arrow Additional contributions to the Miró campaign will be accepted and placed in a fund to create an endowment to ensure the masterpiece is cared for in perpetuity. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Diana Gordon, WSU Foundation director of development for the College of Fine Arts and Ulrich Museum, at 316-978-7307 or at diana.gordon@wichita.edu.

Velma Wallace

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