The challenge following conservation of outdoor sculpture is to provide consistent care to prevent deterioration.
Through endowed maintenance funds raised over the years, Phyllis Cohen oversees the stewardship of these historic works of art that are part of the MAS Adopt-A-Monument program. Some pieces require relatively straightforward treatments, like washing and waxing a bronze statue, while others, like the marble Heinrich Heine Fountain in Joyce Kilmer Park in Bronx, designed by Ernest Herter and erected in 1899, involve more complicated applications. See more photos here.
Last fall, it was evident that the sealant on the interior perimeter of the fountain’s basin had failed and the fountain was leaking. It needed critical replacement as did the mortar on the exterior steps surrounding the fountain. For the last two weeks in May, the crew from Grenadier Corporation, along with conservator Joan Berkowitz from EYPAE, with valued cooperation from the Bronx Park Department, worked to: remove all the sealant around the interior perimeter of the fountain basin; clean and prepare joints to receive new sealant and install new sealant; remove the failed mortar on the exterior steps; clean and prepare steps to install new mortar into prepared joints.
Additionally, the grand multi-figure monument was cleaned of biological growth and washed with water and hoses. Happily, “Die Lorelei,” as she is also called, looks splendid again, enhanced by lovely rose bushes planted by the Bronx Parks Department. Once the mortar and sealant are safely dried in two weeks, the fountain’s water can be turned on, bringing joy to this neighborhood community in the South Bronx.
This Spring and Summer, 16 to 21 other Adopt-A-Monument pieces will also receive annual maintenance. The MAS hires either the NYC Parks’ Art & Antiquity Monuments crew to clean these works or private conservators who have done exceptional work on the original restorations.