Homage to Performing Art, Harry Bertoia
Annenberg Center, Philadelphia, PA
The great sound art sculptor and modern furniture designer Harry Bertoia created his hanging sculpture Homage to Performing Art from 450 individual bronze rods and several bronze discs. The structure is suspended in the main lobby of The Annenberg Center on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, where it spans two floors and is viewable from multiple angles. Over time, the bronze rods tarnished, dust and grime accumulated, and overall the spectacular piece was dull.
The task to conserve the work required days of detailed cataloguing and experimental restoration methods to clean, shine, protect and re-install each rod as new. A series of custom-made soaker baths were constructed to treat each bronze piece separately. One-by- one, rods were submerged in a cleaning solution to remove oxidation and corrosion; then hung to dry, polished, buffed, dunked in a corrosion inhibitor, and finished off with an acrylic resin. Finally, Materials Conservation reassembled the sculpture and hung it again in its place at the University of Pennsylvania.