Celebrating Adopt-A-Monument’s 25th Anniversary
April 17th, 2012, 2:26 pm
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Adopt-A-Monument program, created by MAS in 1987 to rescue public statuary at risk of deterioration. Our two “Adopt” programs (the second being Adopt-A-Mural) have raised nearly $3.5 million to conserve and maintain 51 works of public art from the turn of the 20th century to the present in all five boroughs. All monuments conserved under this program are available for public viewing. MAS not only oversees the conservation and regular maintenance of these works but also continues to be a model for Save-Our-Sculpture efforts in cities across the country and in Canada. We celebrate the 25th anniversary of this signature MAS program this year with the planned restoration of the “Rocket Thrower,” an Olympian-sized sculpture by Donald De Lue. This towering work, a highlight of Flushing Meadows–Corona Park and a theme piece for the 1964 World’s Fair, needs intervention if it is to remain in good condition for future generations to marvel at and enjoy. Inspired by the 1986 prototype restoration of the Statue of Liberty, and aware of how limited were the city’s funds for park maintenance, MAS conceived the Adopt-A-Monument program to rescue these works of public art. The concept was to engage corporations, foundations and individuals to underwrite the repair of a work. Working with the Public Design Commission of New York City and the Parks Department, MAS launched the program by identifying twenty monuments that needed conservation. To date, thanks to the generosity of the program’s benefactors, MAS has conserved thirty-six statues through this program. Out of the original group of twenty, only the heroic bronze “Rocket Thrower” awaits conservation. Celebrating the space age, this bronze 45-foot-high semi-nude figure hurls a long arc-shaped object through a circle of stars. It is symbolic of our country’s aspirations and confidence during the era of our first explorations beyond the stratosphere. Cracks in the bronze were thought a cause for concern, and in July of 2011 Atkinson-Noland & Associates, engineering consultants, did a structural analysis of the bronze. Using a videoscope they read the thickness of the bronze and by thermal imagery readings they measured the strength of the internal structural attachments. The sculpture was found to be structurally sound. The conservation of the “Rocket Thrower” will include cleaning the bronze and the stone base; repatination of the bronze; application of a protective wax coating; and, if feasible, regilding of the stars. Extensive scaffolding is required. MAS is planning a number of tours and talks throughout the year to celebrate the Adopt-A-Monument anniversary. Watch the MAS update for news of these special programs. As the restoration work commences, MAS will post updates to this work. For more information on the Adopt-A-Monument program, visit the project page.