Conservation Assessment of Paul Manship Celestial Sphere
Commissioned in the mid 1930’s and installed on the unfortunate month of September 1939, the Celestial Sphere is one of Paul Manship’s largest works. In form and concept it is representative of his most productive period, featuring classical imagery in a streamlined form and vibrant decorative scheme. Gilded signs of the zodiac and stellar constellations are mounted on a armillary sphere pointed at Polaris that once rotated in time with the earth, keeping the more than 830 silver stars on its surface in alignment with the night sky above. Unfortunately the mechanism failed and weathering led to loss of gilding, structural failures, and losses of elements to vandalism. In preparation of the upcoming centennial of the founding of the League of Nations the UN (its successor organization) is planning the restoration of the Sphere, which was a gift of John D. Rockefeller as a tribute to US President Woodrow Wilson.
We are working with B+S Engineers of Geneva, Switzerland to assess the conditions and develop plans and contract documents to implement the necessary restoration. Work is to be completed in time for the centennial of the founding of the League of Nations.