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Behind the Scenes in Conservation: Outdoor Sculpture Maintenance

by Conservation


behind the scenes , conservation , sculpture , Alice Bimel Courtyard , outdoor sculpture , objects conservation

Harriet Whitney Frishmuth’s The Vine and The Star statues


This week in Objects Conservation: It is time for outdoor sculpture maintenance. The two bronzes in our courtyard require an annual treatment to keep their surfaces free of corrosion during the coming fall and winter months. Each year the sculptures are washed with a power washer and a mild detergent to remove dirt and debris built up over the year. Occasionally green corrosion is present, usually located in crevices and flat surfaces where water sits for an extended amount of time. Corrosion is removed mechanically with a stiff bristle brush. Once clean and dry, a coat of pigmented wax is applied to the surface with brushes. The wax acts as a protective coating, sealing areas where corrosion was present and creating a waterproof barrier from rain and snow. After the wax hardens it is buffed, giving the bronze surface a glossy finish. With September just around the corner, our courtyard sculptures are ready for fall!


Image Credits: 

(R): Harriet Whitney Frishmuth (American, b.1880, d.1980), The Vine, 1923, bronze, 86 1/2 x 46 3/16 x 45 5/8 in. (219.7 x 117.3 x 115.9 cm), Centennial Gift of Dwight J. Thomson, 1980.258.

(L): Harriet Whitney Frishmuth (American, b.1880, d.1980), The Star, 1924, bronze, 75 x 28 3/4 x 18 1/16 in. (190.5 x 73 x 45.8 cm), Centennial Gift of Dwight J. Thomson, 1980.259.