UPPER WEST SIDE — The American Museum of Natural History has completed a $2.5 million renovation on three historic murals depicting Theodore Roosevelt in his conquests as president that bring the 34-foot wall paintings back to their original palette.
The murals are part of a larger $37.5 million ongoing renovation of the entire Theodore Roosevelt Memorial, which has been closed to the public for three years, but which will reopen October 27. The Central Park West facade and entrance to the museum are part of the memorial and have remained closed.
The murals were painted by William Andrew Mackay in 1935 and have not undergone comprehensive conservation treatment since then. In the murals, Roosevelt is seen signing the treaty to end the Russo-Japanese War, conferring with the engineers of the Panama Canal, exploring Africa, and mapping a river in Brazil.
Michael Novacek, the senior vice president of the paleontology division at the museum, described the former president as a "wilderness warrior."
Novacek sees the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial as a "place to celebrate the wonder of nature and human connection and to remember the vision and leadership of this particular human."
The murals, he said, "add grandeur," and remind us that the "museum is not just about nature, but also about human culture and anthropology."
"This is a space to come and talk about the conservation policy [Teddy Roosevelt] built," said Anne Canty, senior vice president for communications and marketing at the museum.