Tonight as the Muny opens its season of performances, theater goers will once again be graced by a beautiful work of art as they enter the the covered promenade. In early 2010 a water main break directly underneath the original 1971 terrazzo installation severely damaged the work and the concrete slab in which it was inlaid, with the lower half extensively cracked and slightly heaved. Sadly, it was determined that the terrazzo could not be saved and by Valentines Day the damaged artwork was unceremoniously pulled up new new concrete was poured. In May however it was announced that that the terrazzo artwork would be restored with a generous gift from the Marilyn Schnuck Charitable Trust.
Some close-ups of the new terrazzo installation.
The new terrazzo was laid last October, and the Muny's Facebook page has an album of photos showing the installation from start to finish. Unlike terrazzo installations of yesteryear, the new artwork was prefabricated in a shop, brought out to the site and assembled and glued down like a jigsaw puzzle. In the traditional terrazzo installation process, which is still widely used for large installations, each section of the work is laid out with metal divider strips, and each terrazzo color is individually troweled into place.
As with many "re-creations" or "replications" that are performed today, the new terrazzo installation at the Muny is a somewhat watered down version of the original. Looking at photos of the original, you can see that many of the details were simplified. Comparing the maroon / pink striped dress and white fringe with the original below you can see that the distinctive scalloping of the fringe and stylized detail of the dress stripes was lost. Many of the color variations of the original also are missing from the new installation.
The ironic thing about the loss of detail is that the technology available today allows details to be more complex. With water jet cutters guided by computer generation, accurate re-creation of detail should not be an issue. While it is not an exact replica of the original artwork, I am still very glad that the Schnucks stepped forward and offered to fund this installation so that future generations will be able to enjoy it.
A program cover shows the original design of the artwork by Nancy Day.