The permanent collection of the Boston Art Commission is currently composed of approximately 194 sculptures, 27 monuments, 185 tablets, 82 architectural elements, and 34 two-dimensional works on paper or canvas. Not including murals, there are roughly 521 artworks on City property;nearly 30 have been installed since 2008. We also have more than 10 permanent projects currently in development.
Air pollution, extreme weather and temperatures, vandalism, human and animal interaction, and simple dust and dirt all combine to harm precious works of public art throughout the city. In the over one-hundred years since the Boston Art Commission was founded, it has increasingly collaborated with professional conservators to preserve and protect its collection for the enjoyment of current and future generations. In addition, the Commission works with artists and communities to ensure that future works of public art are created with long-term maintenance and preservation concerns in mind.
While works of art in granite or marble may require little more than annual cleanings and occasional removal of graffiti, monuments in bronze have presented maintenance challenges to the Art Commission for decades. Harsh treatments like chemical stripping and sandblasting, once considered the best means to remove dirt and corrosive elements from the surface of bronze works, have since been replaced by more gentle and reversible tactics that include light abrasion, pressure washing, and application of protective coatings of resin or wax.
Read on to find out more on specific conservation efforts currently underway for public art in the City. Learn about the massive restoration process that priceless works of art in Faneuil Hall are undergoing, and find out how to get involved in the Art Commission's conservation mission through the City’s maintinenceand & conservation campaign.