Scenery Evaluations and Appraisals Evaluations and replacement appraisals are often required by insurance providers concerning damaged scenery collections. If you are interested in obtaining either service, please contact us for our next available appointment.
Preserving the Past for Future Generations Where are the largest scene collections? In theaters constructed by the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry.
Scottish Rite theaters should be considered fine art depositories that define an exciting moment in American theatre history. Masonic scenery is critical to the understanding of historical scene painting techniques and design for the theatre. It depicts an aesthetic shift on the American staged that occurred between 1900 and 1930. During this time, the painted color palette reflected technological advancements in stage lighting.
The State of Scottish Rite Scenery Scottish Rite scenery collections are often underinsured and stored in deteriorating facilities. They frequently fall prey to leaking roofs or bursting water pipes. The inability to utilize a painted scene during degree work is often the only instigator to evaluate or appraise an entire collection. The Scottish Rite in McAlester, Oklahoma decided to invest in their future through the preservation of their past during the summer of 2008. Joining a small minority of Valleys, the Scottish Rite in McAlester, Oklahoma aggressively launched a restoration campaign to save their theatrical scenery.
When the McAlester Building Restoration Committee sought recommendations from local theatre industry representatives for possible refurbishment, they failed to attain any definitive advice. Believing their collection in peril, they sought out the advice of Bella Scena, LLC. After an onsite evaluation, the McAlester Building Restoration Committee was presented with a history of the scenery, a prioritized list for restoration, and procedural explanations of the repair procedure. Considering the extreme temperature swings and high humidity in Oklahoma, the majority of the backdrops were in remarkable shape for being eight decades old.
This exceptional collection of 112 drops was the largest fraternal stage design and scenic art produced by Thomas Gibbs Moses (1856-1932). His work included scenery for fifty-five Scottish Rite temples nationwide. Many Masonic members do not understand the historical significance of fraternal scenery, nor the reason to preserve this material culture. Unfortunately, the repair or replacement of painted scenery is perceived as optional in both fraternal and commercial theaters. Inaction could result in the disappearance of this artistic heritage unless sufficient interest is generated concerning the importance of these historic artifacts.
Scottish Rite scenery collections construct time capsules for art historians and theatre practitioners, offering a rich resource that depicts aesthetic shifts in the field of scenic art and stage design. Fraternal scenery collections represent a primary resource for art historians to explore painting techniques and color palettes otherwise unavailable. Painted scenery for commercial theatre was typically discarded at a production’s close, leaving only secondary sources in the form of playbills, reviews or other photographic documentation. Much of the scenery used for current Masonic degree work originated between 1900 and 1960. Many of these backdrop collections are in imminent danger of disappearance. Humidity, water damage, dry rot, punctures, sagging cables, warped battens and many other factors are contributing to the rapid deterioration of Scottish Rite scenery across the Nation.
The Valley of McAlester built the largest fraternal stage in the Nation in 1929. One hundred twenty-five line sets displaying 60'w x 40'h drops for Masonic audiences. Like most extant back drop collections, McAlester’s painted scenery was produced with dry pigment and size water. This historical paint methodology combined pure color with diluted hide glue, or "size water." Scenery restoration work must utilize this paint system as alternative artistic media will appear differently under stage lights. To fully understand the historic value and cultural significance of your extant scenery collections, please contact Dr. Waszut-Barrett for her availability.