¡Hola! If you have visited The Mariners’ Museum and Park during the beginning of summer, maybe you noticed movement around the statue Leifr Eiriksson, Son of Iceland, especially someone in a vibrant orange hat – that was me!
In May, the Conservation team welcomed a Puerto Rican to the crew for a new project. My name is Marimar Bracero Rodríguez and I am working on the Stuart and Cynthia Katz Bronze Sculpture Internship, taking place over the course of 10 weeks. During my time at the Museum, I will be working under Senior Objects Conservator Erik Farrell, conducting treatment to the outdoor bronze sculptures. This means that during the summer, I am around the Museum (outside) most of the time. My background is in Art History from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, and I am looking for a way to follow the conservation path. This opportunity will help me to expand my knowledge and get more experiences in the field.
The project focuses on evaluating, cleaning, and maintenance coating of the outdoor bronze sculptures. These sculptures are: the statue of Leifr Eiriksson at the entrance of The Mariners’ Museum and Park, the Bronze Doors at the Business Entrance and the Spanish cannons at the Museum’s visitor entrance, in that order. In this blog, I want to share with you all the experience we had with Leifr Eriksson’s statue, the first project in line. But first, how about we learn about the sculpture?
The Leifr Eiriksson sculpture was created by Alexander Stirling Calder in 1938. It’s a copy of the original one in Reykjavik, Iceland, commissioned by The Eiriksson Memorial Committee of the United States and National League of Icelanders in America for the Icelandic Pavilion at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. At the end of the Fair, the statue was sent to The Mariners’ Museum for exhibition. At first, it was exhibited facing the original entrance of the Museum, now called Business Entrance. Later, it was moved to the inside and exhibited in one of the galleries. In 2007, it was transported to the current location. After more than 15 years outside, Leifr needed some love, so earlier this summer we got to work!
Before any treatment, it is important to have a plan to follow. For the Leifr statue, we needed a lift to work with it properly. So, while we were waiting for the lift to arrive, we used the time to prepare everything we were going to use such as personal protective equipment for the height and the materials to use in the treatment.
Once we had the lift, we were just about ready to start working. It took us some time to learn how the lift controls work. But at the end of the day, slow and steady was the way, especially when we needed to move around to get all the statue’s details in every part of the treatment. We don’t want to hit the statue, right?
The first part of our process was documentation. Taking good notes and pictures helps us understand the effects of past treatments and track the condition of our statue over time. During this process, the best way to work was having a camera and notebook – I prefer a small one to make notes. In cases like this one, having a cellphone is very useful.
After the documentation process, we started cleaning the statue. What do we use for it? From the top to bottom we sprayed soap, brushed with natural bristle brushes, and rinsed with water.
The final step was a bit tricky. Since these objects are outside the Museum, we work when the weather lets us. It took us more time than we expected but using clear wax, colored wax, natural bristle brushes, and cotton cloths we were able to finish the last part, coating the statue to protect it and improve how it looks.
With Leifr cleaned and better protected from the elements, we are finished with this part of the project. If you are walking near the Bronze Doors over the next few weeks, you may find us working on the next part, so stay tuned for more!
- “Leifr Eiriksson, Son of Iceland” The Mariners Museum and Park Catalog. Accessed 30 June 2023. https://catalogs.marinersmuseum.org/object/CL13330