The "lost" murals of Dorothy Morlan

Over 20 years ago, members of the Irvington Historical Society visited the soon-to-be demolished Indianapolis City Hospital, then called Wishard Hospital. During the tour, they were given a series of wet rolled-up canvases which were lying on the floor waiting to be discarded.

These were once the murals painted by Irvington Artist Dorothy Morlan, as part of a project led by William Forsyth, for the Women’s Medical Ward and Sunroom.

The Irvington Historical Society stored these canvas rolls until 2019, when grants from the Indiana Historical Society, the Owings Family Foundation and funding from the Irvington Community Council, allowed the Society to begin restoring its Dorothy Morlan collection and exploring if these murals could be saved.

Art conservator Natalia Nikolayev carefully unrolled and weighted each tight roll to find six canvas strips forming two murals.

One of four sections of the first mural, featuring Morlan’s signature and the date.
A section of the second mural.

From 2019 until June 2023 the panels of these two murals were displayed on the second-floor mezzanine of the Bona Thompson Center. The plan was to clean and mount each piece and rehang these “lost” murals, there was no money available to complete the restoration project. .

The cost of this process was estimated to be $12,000 in 2019. Fast  forward through a pandemic and increasing prices – it would now cost $15,400- and thanks to the Efroymson Family Fund, we are again able to move forward!

In June 2023, Art conservator Natalia Nikolayev packages up the murals for restoration and framing. We hope to be able to show at least one of the completed murals by Christmas 2023.

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