How to save a gold sculpture from a wreck
The Washington Post’s Jonathan Weisman writes on the gold sculpture that sits in a storage area at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, which is in the midst of a $2.3 billion renovation that includes a new exhibition of the artist.
The sculpture, which depicts a man with a bullseye tattooed on his forehead and a pistol tucked into his belt, was purchased by the Smithsonian in 1997 from a retired military man.
Weisman points out that the bronze piece is dated to the late 18th century, when the United States was at war with France and was attempting to prevent it from falling into the hands of the French.
The Smithsonian and the artist are currently in the process of removing it from the museum, and the museum will display it at a public viewing on March 21.
But the piece could be moved out of the storage area, Weisman says.
If the Smithsonian moves the sculpture, it would be the latest move in the museum’s quest to preserve its treasures, which include more than 2,500 artifacts, including a number of bronze busts, silver-plated jewelry, and a bronze statue of the late Queen Elizabeth II.
The museum’s efforts to preserve the gold statue have drawn criticism from some, including the artist who commissioned the work, Michael Gage, who said the sculpture was created to be used by a museum that has historically overlooked the value of art.
“It’s not something that was just handed down to me by my father,” Gage told The Washington Today newspaper in a recent interview.
“It was my gift to the Smithsonian.”
Weiser also points out the Smithsonian could be trying to preserve a piece of its own history by moving it out of storage.
Weisman said the Smithsonian will remove the sculpture from its current storage location, which was in the basement of the museum for nearly 40 years, and that it will put it into a permanent location that is more accessible to the public.
The museum has not yet responded to the article.
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