Stone Conservation, Architectural Features Conservation:
The Cleveland Museum of Art is a world-class institution, known for its outstanding collection of over 45,000 objects. It is only right that a building with so much beauty within, should be beautiful on the outside as well. While the stone buildings were cleaned not too long ago, many lovely architectural features and stone structures on the property were in need of some attention from a wide range of issues.
A retaining wall and balustrade made of white Georgian marble and located in front of the museum on the south side were blackened and stained. Though structurally stable, areas of weathering and dissolution – known as “sugaring” – as well as cracks were disfiguring. The wall and balustrades were last cleaned more than ten years ago. In the spring of 2018, A team of conservators from McKay Lodge Conservation was called in to bring these elements back to a clean, aesthetically pleasing condition.
The team consisted of Marcin Pikus, Conservator of Stone Sculpture and Architectural Features and Conservation Assistants Emmett Lodge and Curtis McCartney . They started by cleaning the marble with pressurized hot water enhanced with the biological solution D2 which is a combination of detergent and a biocide. This proved effective at removing the black film, comprised of algae and bacteria, from the surface. Once the black layer was removed however, thick black, grey, white, and yellow accretions and stains caused by efflorescence became evident. This crust was from years of water seeping through the cementitious joints, dissolving the soluble minerals in the cement, and bringing them to the surface where they re-crystalized when the water evaporated. This thick layer and the stains were removed with JOS cleaning using a very fine garnet at low pressure.
This is only the first step in treating the wall and balustrade. The team will be involved in the conservation work scheduled for the fall of 2018 which will include re-pointing and re-caulking.
McKay Lodge Conservation has provided The Cleveland Museum of Art with conservation of historic works of art before. In August of 2017, Jim Gwinner, Conservator of Modern Sculpture and Public Art, removed failed protective coatings from Rodin’s The Thinker using a dry ice CO2 blasting technique and then applied new coatings. Also in 2017, Tom Podnar, Conservator of Sculpture, Monuments and Fountains, sculpted new bronze replicas of two drinking fountains to replace ones stolen from The Cleveland Museum of Art’s Wade Park.