As of this past weekend, the layers of flaking paint were removed, making it possible to finally see the underlying structure and methods of manufacture.
As the Conservator from Conservation Solutions, Mark Rabinowitz has pointed out, the head and hands are formed from sheet zinc, rather than galvanized (zinc plated) iron. Zinc as a metal is more malleable then sheet iron, and would have been easier to work with to create the details needed for facial features.
This is an image from the 1960′s of a zinc sculpture of a Lion from El Dorado Carousel at Coney Island in Brooklyn. The lion had been painted when it was part of the structure in the amusement park. In 2004, John Campbell, then a graduate student in the Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University (firstname.lastname@example.org) undertook a research project to determine a possible paint scheme. With cross sections of the small amount of existing paint, he determined that the lion was likely painted a gold color with bronze metallic paint.
Because barely any of the paint existed by the time the lion came to the museum’s collection, unlike the Replica of the Statue of Liberty, the museum’s curators and conservators decided to not re-paint the object during its recent conservation in 2004. We opted instead to preserve the remnants of the original paint, and show the object as unpainted; as it had been known for over 40 years.
This image shows the lion being rigged to the roof of the museum, adjacent to the Statue of Liberty. The firm doing the work is a company specializing in the rigging and movement of art objects, Mariano Brothers, Inc.
As the work proceeds with Liberty, we hope to show you details of the structure.
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.