OGDENSBURG The renovation program that began in 2007 on the historic Frederic Remington Art Museum has been put on hold, Executive Director Edward A. LaVarnway said, as testing is under way to determine the cause of a problem with the buildings breathable masonry coating.
Because of the nature of brick, the exterior of the more than 200-year-old building requires a special coating allowing the building to breathe as the pressure and moisture levels inside and outside differ.
Mr. LaVarnway said, There is a danger that there are salts (in the brick) that are affecting the way bonding happens, causing the breathable masonry coating to peel.
Another potential cause of the peeling is that the paint may not have had enough time to cure when it was applied last year.
However, the peeling masonry is just the tip of the iceberg. Because the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, renovations have to be completed according to period styles.
Needing special attention is the aging brick wall on the west side of the museum that is spalling the waterproof coating on the brick has caused the wall to crumble as water vapor is trapped and frozen inside.
The west side of the building is littered with brick shavings that have fallen from the building as years of winter weather have caused the trapped vapor to freeze and expand.
To repair the wall, the museum will have to shell out $33 per new brick, Mr. LaVarnway said.
And because it wont know how many bricks have to be replaced until the coating, some of which contains asbestos, is removed, the museum doesnt know how much the final bill will total.
If it turned out to be $2.5 million, I wouldnt be surprised, Mr. LaVarnway said.
There are piles of brick behind the museum waiting for construction to begin.
Until lab reports on the masonry coating are returned, they could be there for some time.
In the meantime, the museum is continuing its fundraising drive to conduct repairs on the facade and roof. So far $1.6 million has been raised toward the goal of $4 million, a sum that will be used for the renovations, improvements to exhibits and the museums endowment.
The museum is home to the worlds largest collection of original Frederic Remington paintings and sculptures and sees an estimated 15,000 to 17,000 visitors every year.