Aesthetics, conservation and maintenance of outdoor bronzes

W. T. Chase


In 2000, the Fairmount Park Art Association evaluated their program of regular maintenance of selected sculptures in Philadelphia. The bronzes were treated by washing and then renewing a coat of microcrystalline wax applied hot. When a test area of wax was removed from. one of the sculptures, no change at all could be seen over the 17-year period of the maintenance program. The conservation requirements seem to have been fulfilled here, i.e. minimum intervention, reversibility, and the halting of change of the art object.

Questions of appearance were, however, also raised. Hot waxing darkens outdoor sculptures. Some people felt that the darkening effect increases with yearly re-waxing. Other waxes and wax applications are also used, with more thorough treatment of the surface of the sculpture prior to waxing.

Questions of aesthetics are linked here with questions of conservation and of the amount of and intervals between maintenance. All coatings fail with time; maintenance must be considered part of the conservation plan.

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2002 | Miami | Volume 9