Auguste Rodin's The Thinker

Columbia University, New York, NY

The Thinker sculpture sits on the lawn in front of Philosophy Hall on Columbia University’s Morningside Heights Campus in New York City. This casting by French sculptor Auguste Rodin’s most recognized work was installed at this location in 1930. We were awarded the contract to clean and apply a new protective coating to the bronze.

The sculpture was in relatively good condition thanks to annual maintenance treatments executed by university personnel. However, a pigmented wax coating that had been applied during an earlier conservation effort had imposed an inappropriately dark coloration to the statue, obscuring its natural patina. Work began with the removal of the existing wax coating using a portable steam cleaner and pressure washer. The majority of coating and any loose corrosion was removed. Solvents were used to remove the remaining wax residue. The bronze sculpture was spot-patinated to reduce the contrast between the areas of light green and black corrosion. Finally the sculpture received a new protective wax coating.

Photographic and written documentation was carried out prior, and through to the end of treatment. A maintenance plan was created to increase the longevity of the conservation treatment and to help reduce future deterioration, thereby reducing future costly conservation treatments.