Friday, January 8, 2010

Return of the Venus

As fellow blogger Jaime DeSimone announced in her recent post, the Venus Anadyomene fountain by Paul Manship that has graced our rotunda for as long as we've been open was to be reinstalled on December 16th. And, as scheduled, Adam Nesbit, objects conservator from Williamstown Art Conservation Center (WACC), and a crew of experienced art handlers from USArt, led by George Hagerty, arrived that frigid day with the multiple crates containing the fully cleaned and conserved parts for the reinstallation.

The crates came into the museum through our new loading dock, which was a treat for me to use. For the first time ever, the crates rolled from the back of the truck over our dock leveler and straight into the building without the need for an awkward truck liftgate to bring them to ground level. The crates were then brought up to the rotunda in our newly expanded freight elevator where USArt started opening them and began the installation of a large gantry that would help to lift the heavy marble parts into place.

After carefully consulting the notes and images taken during the deinstallation a year and a half ago, the first of six legs was carefully placed over the new pex plumbing pipe that would serve as the fountain's new water supply (see above left, click images to make them larger). A wooden support structure was used to keep the legs safely in place during the installation. Soon, all six legs were installed and properly aligned, and the next layer, the multiple-leveled "wedding cake" (as we were calling it) was installed above using the gantry, locking the legs into the place (see right).

The next part, containing the spigots for the water supply, was placed with the help of a plumber to make the connection with the pex piping (see left). This pex connection weaves back through the floor to a new water filtration and pressure system in the basement designed by Phil Peterson of Peterson Engineering, PC, which was described in detail in Jaime's post. The small metallic spigots, shaped like animal heads, had been cleaned of mineral build-up and tarnish, and showed their original patina for the first time in many years.

Then, finally, with a collective deep breath by all involved, Venus herself was carefully hoisted on top of the structure (see right). It was a momentous occasion to see the fountain complete and back in place. The surface cleaning had brightened her, bringing out the grain of the marble that had been hidden under layers of grime (see below, left). Since construction is still continuing in the building, the fountain was quickly protected with a large wood crate before we were able to test any of the plumbing, but we look forward to seeing Manship's original vision complete when construction concludes.

Thanks is required not only for the careful and skillful eyes and hands of both Adam Nesbit from WACC, George Hagerty and his crew from USArt, and Phil Peterson of Peterson Engineering, PC, but also for Keith and Mary Kauppila, longtime friends of the Addison Gallery, whose generous gift made the restoration of the fountain possible. One of the first artworks ever installed in the museum has become, again, the first artwork installed during our renovation. We can't wait to open our doors to the public so everyone can enjoy seeing Venus again!

Posted by:

James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives

1 comment:

Kathy said...

Congratulations! She's beautiful. You must all be so proud. I can't wait to visit when you open.