Restoring a Frank Lloyd Wright statue | AT THE MUSEUM


Ellen: What we’re looking at is a Sprite from
Frank Lloyd Wright’s project Midway Gardens, which was a sort of concert hall/beer garden
in Chicago. It came to us in a really, really sad state. Clearly, it’s head is missing, that’s the
most glaring damage. But more pressing was the system of cracks
through its in section. Every time you moved her, her top portion
would sort of wobble. It was very scary, and she wasn’t stable enough
for exhibition. Ultimately, we discovered that the rebar was
bent, so we had to cut her in half, separate the two pieces, and then rotate the top portion,
bring it down on the bottom half. So looking at it now, it’s back together,
and then there’s this funny, like marshmallow fluff material that we’re using as our bulk
fill, the main filling component which is more of that resin that we used to put the sculpture back together but that’s been bulked with glass micro-balloons which you see here. These are very light little spheres made of glass which help bulk out the fill. And then the idea of treatment was to…after
that fill is completed, we come out to the surface, we would finish it off with a skin
of concrete mesh fill using more of that acrylic resin, but this time bulked with actual concrete mortar and more of these micro-balloons, and then into that we put sand to match the surface. This is why I’m wearing a dust mask. So this is the pigment that will color the
fill. And then you try to get it around an eighth
of an inch or so thick. And then you peel them apart, like that. And you end up with a nice texture that grabs
the sand that we’re going to be applying later. So you just let that cook for a little while. Jessica, do you wanna take it away? Jessica: Yeah. So, while that sets, I’m gonna trace out the
fill and I’ll just put it down here. And then I’m going to start to cut it out. Basically, I’m just making little dots all
the way around, so that I can find my trace, and then I would go back and actually cut
it out. Now, it’s just about connecting the dots. So, to get the texture, we just use a little
bit of acetone, just to reactivate the surface, and we just brush it on, and then add sand. All right. So I’m just coating the back with the same
adhesive that we used to make this. A little sand helps to ease the transition. Ellen: A final step would be to tone it with
some conservation colors. Where the fill we’re making for the whole
piece is the same color, more or less, the same ingredients, but it’s not going to match
everywhere because the sculpture isn’t all the same color everywhere so we built in this final step of toning as
needed, the surrounding areas.

33 thoughts on “Restoring a Frank Lloyd Wright statue | AT THE MUSEUM

  1. I love these conservation videos, but they rarely show what becomes of all this work, perhaps the result, or showing the effect in detail of the step they have just done? Thanks!

  2. How do you get that job? What schooling us required to become a restoration technician? I want to do that for a living.

  3. First of all, you're wearing a powder mark for resin purpose, bad choice!!! This restauration is against all ethical standards, it should be clearly recognizable (cf cesare brandi, la teoria del restauro) which is the opposit of what you're dioing here……for a europeen museum standard, this restauration is a mess!!

  4. I would have taken care of its structural integrity fist in order to be able to move it without much concerns. Then the cosmetics.

  5. This is such an interesting profession and a fascinating video! I wonder what digital art restoration will look like in 100, 200 years from now.

  6. Frank Lloyd Wright was my great-grandmothers 5th cousin, on my moms side. Anything I see involving him is always interesting, I'm so happy to see his works being repaired and taken care of.

  7. So, do you guys have team meetings before deciding on what to best approach a restoration? Are they Ego-free or do you run into bosses that force bad decisions? By ego free I mean no boss wanting to impose their way over a better way, scientifically. How many experts weigh the best way to restore a piece before finally deciding on the approach? I’m very curious. Thanks! 😊

  8. Sadly, most things FLW built were not built very well. He was a great architect and designer, but his structures require constant upkeep to keep them from falling apart. They were built to look good and he was apparently not overly interested in how long they'd last. I remember visiting Falling Water in Pennsylvania years ago and no one was even allowed to go out onto the big terrace because it was falling apart and was in danger of collapsing. His "Ennis House" in Los Angeles required millions of dollars of reconstruction not long ago as it was falling apart.

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