November 2017
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The Adopt-A-Monument Maintenance Program at Work

Adopt A Monument

The MAS Adopt-A-Monument and Mural programs preserve the extraordinary legacy of public art that MAS helped initiate at the turn of the 20th century.  Over three million dollars have been raised to support fifty-one restorations in all five boroughs since the inception of these programs in 1987 and 1991, respectively.  Through endowed maintenance funds, MAS maintains stewardship of these historic works of art.  A long-range plan has been established which includes yearly monitoring the condition of each sculpture, cyclical cleaning, waxing (of bronze monuments) and documenting treatments. Some pieces require relatively straightforward treatments while others involve more complicated applications.

A most telling example of the role maintenance plays in the life of a monument is seen in The Heinrich Heine Fountain (also called “Die Lorelei Fountain”), honoring the German poet whose poem, “Dei Lorelei,” immortalized the legendary siren that lured sailors to their death with her song. Its theme is one of Heine’s variations on the danger of beauty and love. The fountain, designed by Ernest Herter,  was erected in July 1899 in Joyce Kilmer Park, 161st Street and the Grand Concourse. Conserved in 1999 through a magnanimous gift by the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, the fountain receives bi-annual maintenance due to its ravaged history, the fragility of the marble and its age.

On a brisk sunny November 20th, an antifungal substance that keeps black biological growth from coming back was applied to the large multi-figure artwork. After which, the monument was cleaned using low water pressure with hoses. Grenadier, the company that was part of the original restoration team, performed the work under the guidance of the MAS Adopt-A-Monument director. It took a full day to complete the treatment. The photos below show the dramatic before and after.

Twenty-one other monuments in the Adopt-A program also received conservation treatments this summer and fall. The MAS underwrites all this work which is performed either by private conservators or the Monuments Crew of the Parks Department. Our successful collaborative efforts with the NYC Parks crew are evident in many works throughout the boroughs including: Joan of Arc, Riverside Park; Bronx Victory Memorial, Mosholu Parkway; Neptune Fountain, Staten Island; Form, Flushing Meadows Corona Park; Alexander Holley Monument, Washington Square.  In addition, the Central Park Conservancy crew now kindly provides annual maintenance for sculpture that was originally rescued and restored by the MAS Adopt-A-Monument program. Among these are familiar, much-loved sculptures, Still Hunt and the Robert Burns Monument.