A Season of Sculpture Care | August 17, 2017

A Flurry of Summertime Improvements

Sculpture Care

You may have noticed an increase in activity around certain sculptures and tablets in the Public Garden, Boston Common, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall. The Friends spends an average of $100,000 each year for regular cleaning, as well as conservation and restoration of public art in the three parks.

At the southwest corner of the Public Garden we are wrapping up a three-week project restoring the marble, granite, and bronze of the William Ellery Channing monument. Behind the scaffolding, Daedalus Sculpture Conservators repointed and cleaned the stone, cleaned and restored the bronze, and applied gold leaf to the existing text on the rear of the stone monument. With this restoration, the cleaning and care of this entire work will now be on a more regular cycle.

On Commonwealth Avenue Mall, the Boston Women’s Memorial underwent its annual conservation cleaning at the beginning of August. Due to the easy accessibility of the work by people and their four-legged friends (neighborhood dog owners: please help us by curbing your dogs), the Memorial is cleaned more often than other works that are on pedestals above the reach of casual interaction. All three figures are gently cleaned with a mild detergent (a horse shampoo if you are interested!) and then a protective wax layer is reapplied to the bronze for protection.

In all three parks, other pieces underwent maintenance cleaning. The sculpture or tablet is first rinsed with water, then scrubbed gently with a soft brush using a mild detergent to remove dirt and every day buildup, then followed with a final rinse. Recently cleaned were: on Boston Common; Papal Mass TabletMarquis de Lafayette Plaque, and Commodore John Barry Memorial; in the Public Garden, Japanese lantern; on Commonwealth Avenue Mall: General John GloverPatrick Andrew CollinsWilliam Lloyd GarrisonSamuel Eliot MorisonDomingo F. Sarmiento, and Leif Eriksson.

This regular maintenance saves tens of thousands of dollars in the long run; if a piece is allowed to deteriorate, its full restoration is very costly. The Friends sculpture care program ensures this significant collection is maintained in excellent condition.