In preparation for renovation to the glass corridor roof, two of the museum’s exterior architectural elements, a stone dragon and a zinc lion, needed to be temporarily relocated for safekeeping.
The dragon is carved from limestone and although the artist is unknown, it was likely made in the early 20th century. The sculpture’s original perching place was on an insurance building in Manhattan’s financial district, somewhere near Liberty and Williams Streets. The dragon came to the museum as a gift in 1974. The zinc lion is one of three lions originally associated with the “El Dorado” carousel in Coney Island Brooklyn. This carousel was manufactured in Leipzig by Hugo Haas for King William II, and imported to Coney Island in 1910, where it was originally shown on Surf Avenue near Dreamland and Luna Park. The lions and carousel survived the 1911 Dreamland fire and were relocated to Steeplechase Park where the front façade, including the lions, was separated from the carousel and installed as a doorway to the “Barrel of Fun.” In 1923, the carousel pavilion enclosure was dismantled and the three lions were installed at another site in the amusement park where they remained until Steeplechase Park closed in 1964. The lion was donated to the museum in 1966.
In order to move the sculptures to their temporary home, Mariano Brothers, Inc., a company specializing in the rigging and movement of art objects was contracted.
The lion was the first to be lifted. High strength rigging straps were secured around the lion and its cement base to ensure that it was properly supported and safe as it was removed from the roof. The hook on a truck mounted crane was then attached to the rigging straps and the lion was gently transported to the flatbed truck below.
The dragon was the next to be lifted, however first it transported on a pallet jack to the other end of the roof so the crane could reach it.
Following the same procedure as the lion, the dragon was safely hoisted onto the flatbed truck.
Once both sculptures were secured on the truck they were driven to their new temporary home. While the sculptures are on the ground Conservation is going to take the opportunity to examine and clean both of the sculptures. Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts on the treatment of the dragon and lion this summer.
Jakki Godfrey is an assistant conservator of objects at the Brooklyn Museum. She received her Master's Degree in Conservation from the Winterthur / University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation. Before working at Brooklyn she interned at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC, the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.