Eagle Template by Vicki Scuri has graced an entrance of the Ronald Reagan Federal Building and Courthouse in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania since 1998. Now that a new building has been constructed for Federal offices, the sculpture required removal. Christina L. Simms, Conservator of Objects and Sculpture, and Emmett Lodge, NACE certified Coatings Inspector, recently traveled to perform the removal of the artwork in PA.
Eagle Template is a large, outdoor aluminum sculpture which is painted red. The subject matter recalls the 1942 eagle stamp cancellation mark which is flanked by the Pennsylvania Dutch hex symbol on either side of the eagle. Forms are relatively abstract and stylized.
The sides of the artwork are mounted between two pillars and it is also mounted to the ceiling of the building with four additional bolts. The mounting plates which have been bolted to the sides of the pillars have been covered with marble tiles matching the construction of the overall building.
The artwork was assessed several years ago by Conservator Simms in anticipation of the move. The sculpture was in good condition overall with some surface grime; however, the primary issues were with the extant coating. It had faded and areas were flaking to the aluminum substrate. It was decided then that treatment could be postponed until after the upcoming deinstallation.
The removal of the artwork in PA took place over the weekend to reduce impact on building inhabitants and traffic. For removal, there was concern that excavation of the mounting plates might crack the marble facade on the building; therefore, the sculpture would be cut where it met the wall and existing mounting plates would be left in-situ and covered with patching material.
A 10,000 lb. shooting boom lift was used by Emmett Lodge to hold the weight of the sculpture while connections were cut. The sculpture was secured in place with straps to the lift. Two layers of tape were used to prevent marring the surrounding marble with cutting equipment.
The removal of the artwork in PA continued with cutting side connections. The sculpture was removed from the forklift temporarily so that it could be hung from the top for easier loading. It was then carefully guided to the truck to prevent it from swinging while at the street level. Eagle Template is surprisingly lightweight despite the fact that it is 23 feet long by 10 feet in height.
Top bolts were cut and recessed into the ceiling as possible. The same treatment was done later with the side mounting plates. Marble fills were not completed, instead recesses from the mounting holes were filled with quick-setting material and toned with exterior paint.
The newly cut sides of the sculpture are hollow and new mounting plates can be readily fabricated when the sculpture is installed in the future. The sculpture was removed and loaded onto a 26-foot bed truck, placing it at angle so that it could safely travel. Wood bracing was created to support the sculpture during transport, and it was secured further with straps.
Eagle Template is now placed in an off-site storage facility until its new installation site can be determined.
The artist Vicki Scuri received her Bachelors of Art at University of California Berkley and her Masters in Fine Arts from University of Wisconsin. She has taught in the past, and she is actively creating works of art and site specific installations. In her own words Scuri explains, “I have the ability to build consensus among diverse groups by distilling information and revealing human core values that transcend, age, race, or wealth.” Scuri has a number of successful public art projects throughout the United States which can be viewed on her official site.