Einstein Memorial

National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC

The Albert Einstein Memorial is an over-life sized bronze statue by sculptor Robert Berks depicting Albert Einstein seated with manuscript papers in hand. The memorial, located on the southwest corner of National Academy of Sciences, was unveiled April 22, 1979 in honor of the centennial of Einstein’s birth. The bronze sculpture weighs approximately 4 tons and stands 12 feet high. Berks based the figure from a bust of Einstein he sculpted from life at Einstein’s Princeton home in 1953.

We were first contracted to perform conservation maintenance on the Monument in 2015 and have returned in 2017 and 2019. The goals of the treatment were to gently clean the bronze, remove worn wax, repatinate as necessary, and renew the protective wax coating on all areas of the sculpture. The 2017 maintenance also included cleaning of the granite base. In 2019, our conservators worked to restore and maintain the finishes of the Einstein monument. The treatment included cleaning for the bronze and restoration of the patina to the monument’s nose.

Our conservators cleaned the Memorial with detergent and water, removed particulate matter, biological soiling, and loose corrosion products. High-pressure water jetting was applied to remove deep soiling from the granite. Chemical repatination was performed in areas where corrosion had been removed, as well as areas of exposed bronze due to public use and climbing. The sculpture was coated with a protective layer of custom-formulated hot wax. Our team provided a report detailing the treatment process and maintenance recommendations and continue to return to perform this work periodically.