A Democrat returns to the Capitol: The portrait of Gov. Tom Berry, one of just five Democratic governors of South Dakota, was this morning returned to the first-floor hallway in the Capitol with the rest of the portraits South Dakota’s governors.
Berry’s portrait was removed in October for restoration and cleaning by the Midwest Art Conservation Center in Minneapolis. There, cracks in the painting were filled in, arresting a process that could have caused severe damage to the portrait if left unchecked. More noticeably, at least for now, the portrait was cleaned from the effects of decades hanging in the Capitol hallway.
“You don’t realize exactly how much oil and dust is in the air in a high-volume building like this until they come back, and the portrait itself begins to pop because you can see all the vibrant colors,” said Mike Mueller of the South Dakota Bureau of Administration.
One of the biggest contaminants on the paintings is cigarette smoke, accumulated over the decades until smoking was banned in the Capitol in the 1990s.
Berry, of Belvidere, served as governor from 1933 to 1937.
The restoration was paid for with private funds raised as part of the Capitol Centennial Celebration. Mueller and officials with the South Dakota State Historical Society helped with the restoration project.
Altogether $14,445 in private funds was spent. In addition to Berry’s portraits of Govs. Coe Crawford, Samuel Elrod, Ralph Herseth, William McMaster, George S. Mickelson and Robert Vessey were restored.
That money is now exhausted, and Mueller said there are no current plans to raise more money to restore more Capitol paintings.
Above: Dan Brosz, curator of collections with the South Dakota State Historical Society, and Mike Mueller, special projects coordinator for the South Dakota Bureau of Administration, mount a restored painting of Gov. Tom Berry on the first floor of the South Dakota Capitol in Pierre.