Biltmore Estate Outdoor Sculpture Collection
The Biltmore Estate, the last project for both Richard Morris Hunt and Frederick Law Olmsted, combined the talents of these giants of the 19th century architecture and landscape design to produce what must be the grandest of America’s great houses. Still a private home, the French Renaissance style house has 250 rooms and houses more than 70,000 original objects. Significant European sculptures, including 17th century terra cottas and Venetian well heads and fountains from the 16th and 10th centuries enliven the formal gardens and terraces around the house.
Starting in 2003, we initiated and implemented a comprehensive treatment plan for the Estate’s Outdoor Sculpture Collection. Following a survey of the collection and development of a long term conservation treatment plan based on the Estate’s plans, conservators treated nearly all of the collection. Priorities were established for work based on determination of groups of artifacts that were most in need as well as those that should be logically treated during each annual mobilization. Upon acceptance of the plan, we implemented the work through annual mobilizations.
In addition to the testing and assessment associated with the initial survey, work has included cleaning, replacement of missing elements, repair, repatination, coating application, and training of in-house staff.