During his visit to Melbourne in 1984, Keith Haring undertook a series of public works including a now-iconic mural in Collingwood. Six years later, on 16 February 1990, Haring died at the age of thirty-one from AIDS-related complications.
The mural, which is now heritage-listed, internationally recognised and a beloved cultural landmark, is currently being restored by independent not-for-profit organisation Contemporary Arts Precincts Ltd, with a team led by international conservators Antonio Rava and Will Shank.
Marking the 30th anniversary of his death and the 35th anniversary of the mural’s creation, visiting conservators reflect on the significance of the mural and the challenges that surround the conservation of a public artwork, in conversation with NGV curator Meg Slater.
Meg Slater is Assistant Curator in the International Exhibition Projects department at the NGV. Since 2017, Meg has worked on a number of the NGV’s major international exhibitions, including MoMA at NGV: 130 Years of Modern and Contemporary Art, Alexander Calder: Radical Inventor and Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines. Prior to the NGV, Meg completed internships in the Curatorial, Exhibitions Management and Public Programs departments of a number of museums including the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Brooklyn Museum in New York. In 2016, Meg graduated from the University of Queensland with a Dual Degree in Art History and Business. Meg is currently undertaking a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.
Antonio Rava is an Italian conservator specialising in contemporary art and has led the project to restore Keith Haring’s mural in Collingwood. Since 1979 his research has focussed on contemporary art conservation at the Department of Conservation at New York University with a Fullbright scholarship. He is Vice President of the International Institute of Conservation based in Italy.
Will Shank headed conservation at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for a decade before relocating to Barcelona. His work with preserving public murals won him the Rome Prize in 2005, and led to his creation of the American initiative Rescue Public Murals. Shank trained in art history and conservation in Florence, at the Institute of Fine Arts of NYU, and Harvard University. In 2010 he won the American Institute for Conservation’s Advocacy Award. With the Keith Haring Foundation he has saved murals in Pisa, Paris and Amsterdam.