Mount Vernon and Monticello

Alexandria, VA

To enhance the visitor’s experience and create a more personal presence of each site’s owners, both Mount Vernon and Monticello have commissioned life sized bronze sculptures from StudioEIS for their visitor’s center exhibitions. At Mount Vernon, George Washington is shown with Martha and his adopted children in a group installed indoors. Thomas Jefferson stands alone outdoors on a brick pavement near the entrance to the Monticello.

The human scale and informal poses of each, as well as the lack of any base or pedestal, has meant that visitors freely touch and pose with each. This interaction, however, carries with it a cost. Both sculptures showed signs of wear almost immediately after installation. The sites are among the most heavily visited historic homes in America and the protective wax and original patinas were rubbed away from the abrasion of contact with many hands. The stark contract between the dark brown patina and exposed bright bronze was distressing to the clients who want to protect and preserve the works.

Our conservators were brought in to consult and maintain each piece. Working with the artist and site managers, and relying on many years of experience in the management of bronze sculptures in parks, they made recommendations for means of reducing wear and minimizing ongoing damage. They also provided touch up patination and waxing on already damaged locations of the Washington group.