Conservation of Decorative Aluminum in the Federal Triangle

The Monumental Night Doors at the US Department of Justice

Washington Conservation Guild 3-Ring Circus – “Objects”

Author: Justine Pozluszny Bello

However, decades of use, uninterrupted exposure, and a succession of previous accidents and interventions led to loss, pervasive corrosion and the removal of their striking decorative paint scheme. Their massive size–each leaf being over 20 feet tall–and the logistical complexity of treating them while maintaining security of the building presented challenges to their conservation. An ambitious plan was implemented which began with removing the doors, a feat which had not been undertaken since their installation, to an offsite studio.

Intervention focused on mediating aluminum corrosion, correcting mechanical issues, and re-creating the decorative scheme with an enduring finish that could be field-maintained in the future. Treatments were directed towards ensuring that the doors could fulfill their disparate roles as elements of security and works of art harmoniously. Each was then reinstalled and operated as their designer had intended when they were first created more than 70 years ago