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Temple's interior features 'harmony of all elements'

The manager of interior design for Church Temples and Special Projects, Lawrence Wyss, said there is a special feeling about the Alberta Temple because there is "such a harmony of all elements of the decorative arts working together to enhance one goal.

"From the first time you walk in the door, no one says `ah, this is the 1990s.' The integrity of [the original architects] was continued."Wyss was instrumental in making sure the selection of replacement or additional fixtures or pieces was correct to the period. The furniture in the new areas is an exact copy of original designs.

"We even researched and found fabrics that were of the era. Fortunately, the timing is kind of right because many of the fine fabric companies are doing museum collections that are literal, exact weavings of the designs.

"I wanted even the accessories in the temple to be harmonious with the furnishings," Wyss said. One special piece, a genuine Tiffany vase, was located while he was in New York. He visited Tiffany & Co. and was directed to a source that had the circa 1900 piece.

Many other sources were used for other furnishings, including custom woven carpets and replacement replica light fixtures. Other pieces were donated by the Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City.

He said that although the renovation project had "certain restraints," it also had some "marvelous possibilities with the quality of the murals."

Murals are found in each of the ordinance rooms, the chapel and baptistry and were originally painted at the time of the temple's initial construction by four artists: A.B. Wright, LeConte Stewart, Lee Greene Richards and Edwin Evans.

The murals had faded a great deal from surface dirt, but Mia Struteanu, a professional restoration expert from the Museum of Church History and Art, spent seven months working on restoring them and the baptismal font.

Sister Struteanu had to remove the murals from the walls before they could be cleaned. Some of them were also damaged, both before and during the removal process.

After the cleaning was complete, she applied two coats of varnish to protect the surface.

Some of the murals had to be recreated, as mechanical adjustments made over the years had caused severe damage to the originals.

The replacement murals were created in Sister Struteanu's studio in Salt Lake City. After their completion, the murals were put into special containers and shipped to Cardston. All of the other work was completed on the temple site.

Restoration of the 12 oxen of the baptismal font included removal of four coats of white paint and the repair of broken features. After the paint was removed, wax was applied to the sculptures, allowing the original cement work to remain visible.