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Suspended canvas ceiling renovation

I have a suspended canvas ceiling (30ft x 15ft), supported by ceiling light fixtures in two locations; probably early 1900s. Not that rare in New England I believe.
Two questions:
1. Repainting: The paint has a fine crazing over most of it but in some places has lifted off and curled up in little dried pieces. I suspect the original decoration has been painted over with an oil-based paint at some time in its life. How can I remove flakes and repaint?
2. Renewing: There is no sign of how the canvas is stretched. I suspect the crown molding hides how it is fixed to the walls. I am considering taking the ceiling down and replacing the canvas with new canvas or sheetrock especially if there are no good answers to repainting the existing surface, and also would like to check out the floor construction above it. Any ideas would be appreciated.

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