Moving the Madonna
Several months ago, Sterling Hutcheson from the St. Mary of the
Hills Organ Committee contacted the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum with a unique request.
In conjunction with the purchase and installation of a new pipe organ, the church had begun planning extensive renovations to its nave, and the congregation wanted to find appropriate storage for the beloved altarpiece, “Madonna of the Hills,” painted by Elliott Daingerfield in 1918.
Joe Dulaney, parishioner at St. Mary’s and Daingerfield’s grandson, noted that his grandfather had created this painting while the church was under construction and presented it as his gift to the congregation.
When asked about storing the painting at BRAHM, the staff readily agreed to accommodate its neighbor and began to plan the delicate move of the treasure across Main Street.
The iconic painting, measuring approximately five feet by eight feet, proved somewhat challenging to relocate. But with the trained staff from the museum, including collections manager Allyson Teague, visitor services coordinator Ethan Brooks-Livingston and museum installation technician Phillip Teague, the task was completed flawlessly.
First, the team stood carefully on the altar and examined how the painting was affixed to its molding. They carefully lowered the painting to the floor, wrapped it in acid-free tissue and bubble wrap and then constructed a special foam box to completely surround it.
Once it was loaded onto the museum’s special art cart, the team rolled it slowly across Main Street and placed it in the controlled environment of the art storage area in the lower level of museum.
When the renovations are completed in spring 2014, Mary will be returned to her rightful place over the altar of the Episcopalian church, likely undisturbed to observe the services for another 100 years.