Three New Deal-Era Murals in Detroit: Creation and Conservation

Saturday, November 16th 9:00am - 4:30pm
380 Lone Pine Rd
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304

FIFTEENTH DAY AWAY GUIDED BUS AND WALKING TOUR Presented by Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research

$155 (includes lunch and a $50 tax-deductible donation benefiting Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research)
Tour is limited to 30 Guests

Registration and Coffee starts at 9:00am
Materials from Cranbrook Archives available to explore from 9:00am — 9:30am
Program begins promptly at 9:30am

Day begins at Cranbrook House
380 Lone Pine Road
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan 48304

Private Brunch at The Apparatus Room in the Detroit Foundation Hotel

Kevin Adkisson, Curatorial Associate, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research

Kenneth B. Katz, Painting Conservator and Owner, Conservation & Museum Services, Detroit

Deborah Rice, Head Archivist, Cranbrook Archives, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research, and former Interim Assistant Director, Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University

Grace Serra, Art Curator, University Art Collection, Wayne State University

Gregory Wittkopp, Director, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research

Gregory Wittkopp, Director, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research

Join Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research for another adventure as we embark on our fifteenth Day Away, a series that explores Cranbrook connections off campus.

The Fall 2019 tour starts with the story of a New Deal-era mural, Hauling in the Net, painted for the Lincoln Park Post Office in 1940 by Zoltan Sepeshy, Cranbrook Academy of Art’s second director and president (1946 – 1966) and an Artist-in-Residence (1931 – 1966). After a slide lecture presented by Gregory Wittkopp that will take us, among other places, from Sepeshy’s studio at Cranbrook to Lincoln Park and finally to Beaver Island, we will board our charter bus and travel into Detroit to the conservation laboratory of Kenneth Katz. Katz, who currently is working on a complete restoration of Sepeshy’s mural, will guide us through the process of his meticulous conservation of this egg tempera painting, which was temporarily moved from its home on Beaver Island to Detroit in September.

After lunch at The Apparatus Room (and lunch always is a memorable part of any Center Day Away trip!), we journey to the campus of Wayne State University. In the Reading Room of the Walter P. Reuther Library, we will see and learn about another New Deal-era mural by Walter Speck and Barbara Wilson, painted in 1937 for the Union Hall of the United Auto Workers Local 174. The story of this mural, which features vignettes from pivotal moments in the union’s history, and its recent restoration, will be illuminated by Deborah Rice and Kenneth Katz.

Our New Deal-era discoveries will conclude in Wayne State University’s Student Center where a pair of murals by the celebrated American painter William Gropper hang side by side in a board room. Titled Automobile Industry, they were painted in 1940 and 1941 for Detroit’s Northwestern Branch Post Office, where they remained until 1971 when they were moved to Wayne State University, now on long-term loan from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The story of this project will be narrated by Grace Serra with Kenneth Katz once again discussing the work he did to conserve the paintings.

Our travels to and from Detroit on our charter bus will be narrated by Kevin Adkisson, who will share the history of some of Detroit’s New Deal-era architectural landmarks.

Lunch will be at The Apparatus Room in the two-year-old Detroit Foundation Hotel.  Located at the corner of Washington Boulevard and West Larned Street in a neoclassical structure that originally housed the headquarters of the Detroit Fire Department (1929, Hans Gehrke, architect), the building was thoughtfully restored and reconceived as a hotel by Cranbrook volunteer Michael Poris, principal of McIntosh Poris Associates. While the public restaurant and bar are housed in the former equipment room—“The Apparatus Room”—our private brunch, served family style, will be in the original firemen’s mess hall with windows overlooking TCF Center/Cobo Hall.  Crafted by Executive Chef Thomas Lent (two-starred Michelin Chef and James Beard Award-winner), the menu features classic American fare that emphasizes locally-sourced and seasonal ingredients.  The Apparatus Room’s sister restaurant, Chef’s Table, won the Detroit Free Press’s “2018 Restaurant of the Year” award. Our mid-day dining experience will include a glass of wine or a craft beer and coffee. 


9:00am – 9:30am
Registration and Coffee in Cranbrook House

9:30am – 10:30am
Presentation by Gregory Wittkopp in the Cranbrook House Library

10:30am – 11:15am
Travel by Charter Bus to Detroit

11:15am – 12:15pm
Presentation by Kenneth Katz in the conservation laboratory of Museum & Conservation Services in Detroit

12:15pm – 12:30pm
Travel to The Apparatus Room in the Detroit Foundation Hotel

12:30pm – 2:00pm
Lunch and Conversation at The Apparatus Room
(Lunch, including a glass of wine or a craft beer, coffee, and gratuity, is included in the Day Away registration fee.)

2:00pm – 2:15pm
Travel to Wayne State University

2:15pm – 3:00pm
Presentation by Deborah Rice and Kenneth Katz in the Reading Room at the Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs

3:00pm – 3:15pm
Walk to the Student Activities Building at Wayne State University

3:15pm – 3:45pm
Presentation by Grace Serra and Kenneth Katz in the Board Room at the Student Activities Center 

3:45pm – 4:00pm
Walk back to the Charter Bus

4:00pm – 4:45pm
Travel to Cranbrook House


The cost of this all-inclusive, guided tour is $155 per person, which includes a $50 tax-deductible gift to Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research. Guests may arrive at Cranbrook House for registration and coffee between 9:00am and 9:30am. The day’s program starts promptly at 9:30am. The bus will return to Cranbrook by 4:30pm. Free parking is available in the parking lot on the south side of Cranbrook House and Gardens, located at 380 Lone Pine Road.

Tickets are non-refundable, but may be transferred by the purchaser to another guest. But don’t delay—this tour is limited to only 30 guests and all the past Day Away programs have sold out, often within days of the announcement.

Please note that this tour will include a short walk on Wayne State University’s campus. Kenneth Katz’s studio and the Walter P. Reuther Library Reading Room are accessible with elevators. The charter bus is equipped with a restroom. The tour is designed for lifelong learners and is not intended for children under the age of fourteen. The tour will take place rain or shine. Please wear comfortable shoes.

For additional information, please contact the Center for Collections and Research Administrative Assistant, Alissa Seelmann-Rutkofske at 248.645.3307 or


Zoltan Sepeshy, Study for Hauling in the Net Mural, circa 1940 (detail). Collection of Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Zotlan Sepeshy, Hauling in the Net Mural (detail), 1940. Marine Museum, Beaver Island Historical Society, St. James, Michigan. Photography by Gregory Wittkopp.

Zoltan Sepeshy in His Studio with a Sketch for the Lincoln Park Post Office Mural, May 10, 1940. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research. 

Portrait of Kenneth Katz. Courtesy Museum & Conservation Services, Detroit, Michigan.

Walter Speck, Untitled Mural (detail). Collection of Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University.

The Apparatus Room, Detroit, Michigan.  

This event is sold out.