The Antelope Valley Indian Museum is located in northeast Los Angeles County, in an isolated area of the Mojave Desert. The main building was built in the 1920s-30s by self-taught artist Howard Arden Edwards, and served as his home and housing for his large collection of Native American artifacts. The home and associated outbuildings were purchased by the State of California in 1979, and became a State Historic Park in the 1980s.


Nearly every interior and exterior surface of the original building was elaborately decorated by Mr. Edwards, using Native American motifs. Our firm did a comprehensive survey of decorated surfaces in 2009, for purposes of prioritizing and planning future conservation treatments. Findings have been subsequently used as the basis for RFPs for specific conservation projects.


In 2015-2016 we performed the conservation treatment of the Kachina Gate Murals, replicated in 1982 and again in 1991 by Jean Chernof from original designs of Hopi Kachina dancers by H.A. Edwards. The panels are displayed outdoors without protection from the elements, and were in very poor condition before conservation. Paint layers exhibited extensive flaking, loss, and powdering; the plywood panels exhibited delamination and losses; there was a badly degraded and discolored varnish layer; and the surface was quite dirty. Conservation treatment included cleaning; varnish removal; consolidation of powdering paint; reattachment of flaking paint; stabilization of plywood support; filling of losses; visual reintegration; and varnishing.


In 2017 we performed the conservation treatment of the Southwest Room Mural, a geometric design in acrylic and distemper which follows the architecture of the west wall of the room. The mural had been badly damaged on the right side by water leaking from the roof, resulting in extreme flaking, powdering, and loss of paint layers, and cracking and displacement of the plasterboard. Our treatment included cleaning; consolidation of powdering paint; reattachment of flaking paint; and visual reintegration.




Condition Survey of Murals and Decorative Schemes, H.A. Edwards, ca.1930s
Various media; variable dimensions
Kachina Gate Murals, Jean Chernof, 1982 and 1991
Oil on four plywood panels; Each 8’H x 4’W
Southwest Room Mural, H.A. Edwards ca. 1930s; repainted ca. 1970s-80s by unknown artist
Latex and distemper on plasterboard; 6’ 3”H x 15’ 8”W


State of California Department of Parks and Recreation, Lancaster, CA