Martin Luther King Jr.’s Bench

Cincinnati Museum Center, Cincinnati, OH



A responsible conservator knows never to alter the material character of an object. This unassuming little bench is a perfect example of that maxim. It is the remaining artifact from the Birmingham Alabama cell where Martin Luther King wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, just following his arrest for a planned nonviolent protest in that city.

MC was brought in to conserve the bench as we found it, and prevent any further deterioration. At the time of conservation treatment, the bench was part of the traveling America I Am exhibit, coordinated by the Cincinnati Museum Center on loan from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

Paint was gently re-adhered with a low temperature iron to prevent further paint loss. The treatment also involved stabilization with an acrylic resin adhesive. In keeping with historical documentation, the object was digitally photographed before, after, and during treatment.

Sukari Keetin