Palace of Fine Arts Unveils Grand Restoration

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    SAN FRANCISCO - MAY 08: A view of the newly restored ceiling of the rotunda the Palace of Fine Arts on May 8, 2009 in San Francisco, California. The second phase of the Palace of Fine Arts restoration is near completion and the rotunda is expected to be open to the general public in the coming weeks. The Palace, built in 1915, was designed by architect Bernard Maybeck for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Expo. The Palace is the only remaining structure from the Panama-Pacific Expo. The $21 million makeover is expected to be completed by the end of the year. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

    It may not look too different, but some major changes under the skin of the Palace of Fine Arts have just been completed.

    The nearly hundred-year-old dome has been reinforced for earthquakes, statues stabilized, landscaping improved, and a new pathway leads pedestrians through the ancient-looking columns, according to the Gate.

    It was designed for a 1915 exposition to look like an ancient ruin, so the restoration project had a unique challenge: keeping the old look while ensuring its safety.

    Originally, the Palace of Fine Arts was a flimsy plaster construction. Most of the exposition buildings were torn down within a year.

    But the Hearst family loved the Palace of Fine Arts, and kept it up. After a few decades of slow deterioration, it was recast in concrete.

    New problems emerged in recent years, however. The lagoon became dirty and there was a constant threat of statues falling from the top of the dome.

    The city and state contributed $10 million to restoration starting in 2003. Another $11.3 million came from private fundraising.

    The official unveiling of the revitalized property happens tomorrow, the 14th, at 10am.