To those of you who are regular readers to this blog, you may remember my colleague, Jakki Godfrey’s post from May 27 detailing the deinstallation of the dragon and zinc lion to accommodate roof work. Over the summer, both objects were cleaned by objects conservation staff.
Unfortunately for the objects conservators, not to mention the zinc lion, pigeons found the sculpture to be a very comfortable apartment in a very desirable location. The amount of bird guano inside the sculpture was both astounding and disgusting. Guano is both acidic and rich in nitrates, which can be corrosive to the metal of the sculpture and needed to be removed from the interior. This only proves that the job of an art conservator is not always glamorous.
This week, both sculptures were rigged back onto the roof now that the needed roof repairs had been completed. Mariano Brothers a specialized rigging firm, returned to reinstall the sculptures. But what were we to do about the pigeons?
To this end, we contacted Birdmaster, a firm that specializes in installing protective netting and screening that prevents birds from setting up house on buildings and sculpture. After the riggers installed the sculptures, not taking any chances with those pigeons, we wrapped the lion in plastic, a la Christo, to await the arrival of the crew from Birdmaster.
Pigeons need a 3″ hole in order to set up a nest and two flew immediately over to sit on the head as soon as we removed the plastic, but William Barretto and Brian Dwyer expertly cut and secured with stainless steel wire, resin coated stainless steel mesh and stainless steel spikes to block the access. The birds will be disappointed at the loss of their home, but it’s a happy day for the lion.
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.