When I got a press release that American Express made a $350,000 grant to re-gild the ceiling of the Main Hall at Union Station since it was damaged in the 2011 earthquake, my first thought was, “I didn’t know it was damaged.” And when I read that the gold leaf for those coffers is coming from Giusto Manetti Goldbeaters in Florence—who’s specialized in gold leaf since the 1600’s, my second thought was, “Who’s going to apply the gold?”
Photo by Amanda Walker
A local firm from Olney, MD, called The Gilders’ Studio will apply the 23k gold leaf—all 8,000 square feet of it, in 120,000 individual sheets. Work should be starting next week.
And in the meantime, practically anywhere you look around DC—and far beyond—where there’s a gold dome or statue or ceiling, chances are that it was applied by the Gilder’s Studio.
I called Michael Kramer, the studio’s founder and president, to ask him about the project, and we ended up talking for nearly an hour about all the work that they do. First, what a cool guy. Second—what a fascinating job! We’ve all seen their work and probably had no idea.
Any baseball fan paying attention will have noticed that the dull, metal hands on the huge clock at Nats Park turned gold earlier this year. Why? Because a dear friend of Michael and his team recently passed away from ALS, and she was a HUGE Nats fan. In honor of her, The Gilder’s Studio DONATED the gilding work to the Nationals, and we all have benefitted:
Moving right along — who among us hasn’t come around the Beltway to see the golden spires of the Morman Temple rise up in front of you? (And I always loved the graffiti on the overpass as you got closer that said “Surrender Dorothy.” Not sure if it’s still there… but I digress.) A few years back, The Gilders’ Studio regilded the temple’s spires and the statue of the Angel Moroni.
Photo by Don McClellan
Before they started, it was clear those spires were in need of a facelift:
Michael and his team are also behind the vaulted ceilings of the National Academy of Sciences, the gilded ceiling of Lincoln’s burial chamber in Springfield, Ill., the interior molding of the Renwick Gallery and the silvery walls of the Library of Congress’ Rosenwald Rare Book Room. They’ve gilded the lobby of the LVMH headquarters in New York, many interior elements of Barney’s in New York—even the huge golden wall behind the podium of the United Nations’ General Assembly Hall.
So, wow. All that talent and beauty, right here in Olney. I can’t wait to see what else they do.