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Adopt-A-Monument: The Program

richard morris hunt memorial

In response to the deterioration of many of New York City’s outdoor statues and the limited resources to preserve them, the Municipal Art Society initiated the Adopt-A-Monument program in 1987. The program was born as a plea to corporate and private donors to support the conservation of 20 of the city’s most neglected public statues. Over $2 million has been raised for this project and 38 monuments have been restored. The Society not only oversees the conservation treatments on these projects, but also continues to be a model for Save-Our-Sculpture efforts in cities across the country and Canada.

Heinrich Heine Fountain – The Heinrich Heine Fountain (1889) by Ernest Herter was the last of the 20 monuments identified in the Adopt-A-Monument program’s 1987 plea. The fountain honors the German poet (1797-1856) whose poem Die Lorelei immortalized the siren of Romantic legend. Unveiled on the 100th anniversary of its dedication in July 8, 1999, the fountain now sits in a newly landscaped setting in the Joyce Kilmer Park (Grand Concourse & E. 161st Street). A joint funding effort that included a generous private donation from the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation matched by funds from the Borough President and the City Council provided the $1.2 million necessary to fully restore the fountain and transfer it to its original location within the park. This has been the largest monument restoration to take place outside of Central Park, and has led to the relandscaping of the southern part of Joyce Kilmer Park where the glistening white fountain now dominates.

soldiers sailors monument

Soldiers and Sailors Monument – Restoration of Frederick Wellington Ruckstuhl’s Soldiers and Sailors Monument(1896) in Queens, a Beaux Arts tribute to Civil War soldiers, was completed under the MAS Adopt-A-Monument program in 1997. With funding from the Gilder Foundation, the Drackett Company, the New York Conservation Center, and friends of the Society, the piece was cleaned, a loose joint in the palm frond repaired, and the surface repatinated. The Parks Department collaborated by removing graffiti and overpaint from the stone pedestal.

Richard Morris Hunt Memorial – The steadfast support of the Paul and Klara Porzelt Foundation again provided a leadership grant towards the conservation of the Richard Morris Hunt Memorial (1896-1901), by Daniel Chester French. As Hunt was the Society’s first president, the restoration of this Beaux Arts showpiece is especially fitting. The conservation was completed in October 1998.

The Society also exercises stewardship responsibilities for the maintenance of New York’s Korean Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Roundabout at the East River Pavilion.