Friday, July 18, 2008

Manship Moves for the First Time Since 1931

Things have been frantic here at the Addison since we closed to the public July 13th for the last time until 2010. We have three shows of artwork to pack, a variety of various furnishings to remove, and several staff members to relocate by the end of this month when the building is finally turned over to the contractors. One of the more interesting artwork moves, accomplished just two days after we closed, was the deinstallation and packing up of our famous Paul Manship Venus sculpture and fountain that has graced our rotunda since the Addison opened on May 17, 1931.

The fountain is being sent to the Williamstown Art Conservation Center (WACC) to be conserved while we are closed. The surface will be cleaned, minor fractures in the marble base will be consolidated, and the fountain will be adjusted so that the water will cascade over its sides as it was designed.

USArt Company, working with WACC conservator Adam Nesbit, erected a gantry to span above the fountain and carefully lift up each of its layers so they could be pulled aside, lowered to the floor, and either crated or palletized for travel. The Venus sculpture came off the top first and then the two layers that comprise the actual fountain, held together with plaster "glue," were removed. Pulling these apart gave us the first look at the brass piped interior plumbing that had not been seen in seventy-seven years. Then, each leg was slowly lifted from the pool's basin and placed into their form-fitting containers. The job took one very long day, but it went very smoothly, with great compliments to the representatives from USArt and WACC.

We still have a ways to go before the building is turned over to the contractors. However, we're happy to know that the moving out phase is just about done and then, in just eighteen short months, we'll be moving everything back into the museum again, including the restored and fully functional Manship fountain. That is a time we here on staff are all looking forward to with great eagerness and optimism.

James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives

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