Muskegon Pigeon Hill Landscape

This watercolor of Muskegon’s iconic Pigeon Hill was plagued by a mold invasion that had unfortunately spread across the entire work; it is an older work, and this can happen with artwork that has been kept in Michigan, especially near a body of water.

The artist used a watercolor board which happened to have acidic components. Over time these components migrated to the paper and caused a number of problems, staining being one of the big ones. The first step was to neutralize the watercolor board with a chemistry bath. This removed the acidity and the fungus. Cotton tips were used to lift fungus from the front, and then in-painting finished the restoration and really brought the original image back to life.

Pigeon Hill is actually a sand dune and there is a bit of lore concerning its height. Legend has it that it once soared over 300 feet and covered 40 acres at its base. However, in 1907, the Muskegon High School’s trigonometry class precisely measured it at 217 feet. Pigeon Hill would continue to decline, and by 1938 it was all but gone, only a few humps, and none bigger than 10 feet.

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