A restorer was already busy trying to save the Ben Shahn mural in the Bronx Central Post Office in New York City when the article in which it was featured, Edward Laning’s “Memoirs of a WPA Painter,” appeared in our October, 1970, issue. According to the General Services Administration, the restoration was more complex than was anticipated because of the “strange reaction of the plaster on the tempera, aided by the accumulation of 30 years of dirt.” In addition, Karel Yasko, special assistant to the commissioner, Public Buildings Service, G.S.A. , had this welcome news to report :
Our next salvation is directed at the Edward Laning murals on Ellis Island. This is a direct result of your story. I had been informed previously that they had deteriorated beyond recall but when your photograph indicated that at least one was seemingly intact, we felt compelled to try to save it.…
Mr. Yasko also reports that an inventory has been started to locate all works of art that were commissioned by the federal government and are still in its possession, especially those done between 1933 and 1943. Perhaps a full-scale restoration policy will result.