Restoration underway on 90 year old historic piece at Coleman Theater


MIAMI, Okla. – A $50,000 restoration effort on an original part of Miami’s Coleman Theater is underway.

A painted theater backdrop dating back to 1929 was hung originally for opening night at the Coleman, but time hasn’t been so kind to the historic piece.

Textile Conservator Anne Murray Chilton is from Oklahoma City and is restoring the backdrop. She says there are rips and small holes to the tapestry, from being drawn up and down over the years. Repairs have been made to the backdrop in the past, but they were outdated and the piece didn’t hold up to the repair work. So, Chilton will remove those former repairs using more modern techniques to restore the backdrop. So far, Chilton and several of her family members have brought down the curtain to vacuum and clean it. They are even hand removing rubber cement on the aging piece.

“It’s really a fun thing to get to see history and that’s one of the best parts of my job is getting to see all the historic objects and actually work on them and help preserve them. It’s been here for 90 years and hopefully it will be here for another 90 or more.”

Anne Murray Chilton, Head Textile Conservator

Chilton adds one of her biggest challenges is the size of the backdrop at 30 by 40 feet. She says it can be difficult dealing with stressing the piece so it won’t tear. In fact, it’s a backdrop valued at $1 million so extra care is needed to preserve it.

Chilton and her family have already completed about two weeks on the project and have another two weeks to go.

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