Thirty murals decorate the arches and walls of the second floor of the Main Library. There are twelve lunettes, two tondos, and sixteen arches, all but one of which are painted on canvas which has been glued to the walls. The murals were installed in 1907 under the direction of decorator Elmer Ellsworth Garnsey (1862 – 1946) who was also involved in the decoration of the Boston Public Library and the Library of Congress.
In 1995, when the Reference Department was closed so that internet cables could be installed in the floors, a contractor noticed something peeling off the wall. They walked over and carefully pulled it away, only to find that there was artwork underneath. Thus began the intensive restoration process of the Reference Department and 2nd floor hallway walls, that revealed some of the most amazing artwork from the early years of Carnegie Institute.
Click the link below to access the full report of this process done by Marilyn Holt, Library Services Manager – Pennsylvania Department.