The paint layers on the statue are unstable, making it necessary to remove them entirely, for the preservation of the object. The surface has always been painted. In August of 2005, cross sections of the paint layers were made and analyzed by the contract conservation firm doing this treatment – Conservation Solutions. The cross sections showed 10 t0 17 layers of paint. The paint contains heavy metals that need to be contained during removal.
Sharon and Rodney of Ultra High Pressure Projects, Inc. are preparing to set up the tent structure to contain the paint during removal.
Sharon is proud to be the company’s first woman project manager.
UHP projects is a firm specializing in paint removal and painting. They have worked on the Saturn 5 Rocket, and the USS Wisconsin Battleship. The ultra high pressure water system uses extremely fine nozzles made out of sapphires to propel a fine, yet powerful spray of water on the paint surface. In the case of the Brooklyn Museum’s statue, the pressure is approximately 40,000 pounds per square inch. This safely removes the paint without disturbing the underlying galvanized (zinc plating) on the iron sheet. Richard Dupuy, UHP President likes the innovated clean technology, which is contollable and leaves no grit behind, which often is the case with abrasive blasting procedures.
A giant containment tent is built with nylon fabric and lift equipment to assist in directing the paint and water into the large, blue storage tank seen in the photo. Bruce of UHP is on one of the lifts, directing the water spray to the front of the statue.
The paint removal is expected to be complete by the end of Sunday. If you would like to see the conservation in action, please stop by the Brooklyn Museum this weekend. May 6th will be First Saturday at the Museum. The Museum is open until 11pm on the first Saturday of every month. There is something for everyone, including, music, art, and gallery talks. For the June First Saturday, Objects Conservators will be talking about the treatment, but on this First Saturday, you can see the treatment in action.
Lisa Bruno is the head conservator of objects at the Brooklyn Museum, where she has been working since 1993. She has previously worked at the Art Institute of Chicago, and has had internships at The Cleveland Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and in private practice. She has a Masters Degree in Art Conservation from the University of Delaware, Winterthur Museum Art Conservation Department. She is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation.