New Rules Ban Private Dinner Parties Near Coit Tower Murals

For Immediate Release:  Thursday, August 23, 2012        

News Release

SF ARTS COMMISSION ISSUES NEW RULES AIMED AT PREVENTING FURTHER DAMAGE TO COIT TOWER MURALS; RESTRICTIONS BAN PRIVATE DINNER PARTIES NEAR ART

New rules come after passage of Prop. B by voters in June and concerns raised by relatives of Coit Tower artists about past private parties putting murals at risk

Following the passage of a San Francisco ballot measure in June imposing a new city policy aimed at protecting the historic Coit Tower murals, the San Francisco Arts Commission has issued new rules for the use of Coit Tower designed to prevent further damage to the art.  The “Guidelines for Coit Tower Usage,” issued by the Arts Commission and adopted by the Recreation and Parks Department impose more than 50 new restrictions and requirements for visitors, concessionaires, construction workers, and tour guides at Coit Tower.  Among other changes, the new rules prohibit food, drinks and candles inside the Coit Tower mural rooms.  This spring, descendants of Coit Tower artists expressed outrage at photographs showing that the Parks Department in May 2011 allowed a cocktail and candlelight dinner party to be held right next to already-damaged Coit Tower murals.  (View the photographs of that dinner party here: http://lauriearons.blogspot.com/2011/05/coit-tower-benefit-dinner.html)

“As the grandson of Coit Tower muralist Bernard Zakheim and the publisher of a book about Coit Tower’s history and art, I am encouraged to see the city adopt this official new policy aimed at preventing further damage to the historic Coit Tower murals,” said Adam Gottstein, whose grandfather painted the Coit Tower mural 'The Library'.  “I am especially glad to see that the city has responded to the serious concerns I and others raised this spring when we discovered photographs of a private candlelight dinner party held right next to some of the fragile frescoes.  By prohibiting open flames, candles, food, and drinks within the Coit Tower mural rooms, this new Coit Tower mural preservation policy is a step in the right direction towards treating the Coit Tower murals like the immensely valuable public works of art they are.”

Proposition B, approved by San Francisco voters in June, made it the official policy of the City and County of San Francisco to protect Coit Tower and its murals by prioritizing the funds raised at Coit Tower for preserving the murals, protecting the Coit Tower building, and beautifying Pioneer Park around Coit Tower and by keeping commercial activities and private events limited. 

While Coit Tower supporters praised the new mural preservation guidelines, they also urged the Arts Commission and Recreation and Park Department to fully implement both Prop. B and the recommendations made in a lengthy city report issued in June which detailed the extensive damage to the Coit Tower murals and building.  Among its 100 recommendations, the “Coit Memorial Tower Condition Assessment” stated that a fresco conservation treatment should begin immediately to stabilize areas of water damage and that a live guard staff should be employed to minimize impacts from visitors and be a reminder of the value and importance of the historic artwork.

“The Coit Tower murals are absolutely irreplaceable and we sincerely hope these new preservation guidelines are an indication that the city is finally taking steps to respect them, rather than neglect them,” said Jon Golinger, Chair of Protect Coit Tower. 

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