A wide shot of a ceramics studio, featuring students working with pottery wheels and other tools.

Walt Disney Birthplace Exterior Paint and Finish Analysis

The paint and finish analysis conducted by the Historic Preservation graduate students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago was completed as an assignment for the Building Conservation course, directed by Anne Sullivan in the Fall 2014 semester. The students extracted samples from three exterior sides of the house while carefully documenting the location of the removed paint. Students then performed a microscopic analysis of the layers of paint from the exterior trim, bargeboard, and clapboard siding.


Once the paint layers and finishes were analyzed under the microscope, students matched the colors using the Munsell Color Notation System. Three color palettes were found to be historically appropriate for the exterior paint colors. The three color schemes and recommendations for paint were presented to the owners.

The goal of undertaking this paint and finish analysis was to understand color chronology for the exterior’s original front door trim and original window trim, clapboard siding, and bargeboard (trim on edge of house) and the interior. Establishing the chronology of the paint layers allowed us to make recommendations regarding appropriate paint color for the house’s period of significance in 1905. Once the colors were identified with the Muncell Color Notation System, students were able to identify appropriate paint colors from the Benjamin Moore collection and make proper color scheme recommendations.