It goes without saying that regular maintenance is key to the beauty of Old Yard’s most popular resident who is approaching 140 and has suffered greatly at the hands of visitors and vandals.
The iconic John Harvard statue, inspired by a 19th-century student (not the 17th-century English minister and generous benefactor of the College, John Harvard), receives occasional washes from the Harvard Landscape Services team, but last month he had some sort of statuary spa treatment.
For several days in July and August, a team specializing in the restoration of public monuments carefully exercised its magic behind a screen of green wire mesh and wire netting in front of the university hall. Armed with paintbrushes, soft rags, pressure washers and a leaf blower (for drying), they restored the original color and shine of the 1884 statue by artist Daniel Chester French, famous for his later sculpture of Abraham Lincoln sitting on Washington’s National Mall.
“We believe that the John Harvard statue is some kind of a stable and eternal monument, but this bronze is actually a delicate work of art,” said Angela Chang, conservationist of objects and sculptures at Harvard Art. Museums. âIn the museum, we can really deal with a job like this much differently than something here.â
Robert Shure, director of local sculpture design firm Skylight Studios in Woburn, Massachusetts, led the smooth rehabilitation effort with guidance from Chang, deputy director of the museum’s Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies. The famous statue is officially part of the University Portrait Collection, a group of paintings and sculptures scattered across campus and held by the Harvard Art Museums.