Art conservation is a common and necessary practice at the Smithsonian museums and many other art institutions, that’s purpose is to cleanse, repair, and protect artwork over time. This process is critical in maintaining the appearance for visitors while also staying true to the artists’ original visions. Normally, this practice occurs behind the scenes, but this summer the Freer Gallery of Art gave the public an opportunity to watch conservators work. This three day process occurred from Wednesday July 12th to Friday July 14th on the Mall side entrance of the Freer. These two bronze Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907) sculptures that usually sit in the Freer courtyard underwent a solid carbon dioxide, or dry ice, cleansing treatment followed by an application of wax with propane torches. They were removed of old wax treatments, build-up, and residue and reinforced for protection. Click the pictures to find out more information on the sculptor/Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the sculptures, and the conservation project.
The project is made possible through the Smithsonian Women’s Committee.