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Since May, the Burlington County Prison Museum in Mount Holly has been undergoing a $2.9 million restoration project, which includes preserving wall art created by prisoners who were housed there nearly seven decades ago.
The graffiti being conserved is from a ten-year period from when the prison walls were last painted in 1955, to when the prison closed in 1965.
Officials at the Burlington County Prison Museum Association said the drawings left behind by the prisoners are different from other jail art. The subject matter is not violent or pornographic, but more inspired by religion.
Gabriela Genao of Jablonski Building Conservation works to preserve graffiti on the cell walls of the historic Burlington County Prison in Mount Holly. (Emma Lee/WHYY)
“There is quite a bit of religious graffiti in here,” said Stephanie M. Hoagland, principal and senior conservator with Jablonski Building Conservation Inc., a New York City-based architectural conservation firm that specializes in preservation of historic buildings, monuments, and other cultural resources. “There’s also a lot of calendars which are counting off the days until they get out and then there’s love notes.”