Oklahoma Capitol statue 'The Guardian' to be cleaned, inspected

A cleaning and inspection is past due for the bronze statue of the American Indian warrior, which was placed on top of Oklahoma state Capitol's dome 11 years ago. It hasn't been cleaned or inspected since. Getting to the statue, which towers about 250 feet above the ground, has been a main obstacle.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: July 21, 2013 at 3:00 pm •  Published: July 21, 2013
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After more than a decade of being exposed to wind, rain and pollution, “The Guardian” statue on top of Oklahoma's state Capitol may be getting a scrub and a wax job.

The head of the Oklahoma Arts Council said a cleaning and inspection is past due for the bronze statue of the American Indian warrior, which was placed on top of the Capitol's dome 11 years ago.

Amber Sharples, the council's executive director, said it will be expensive to hoist someone about 250 feet above the ground to do the work. There doesn't appear to be a way to build scaffolding around the statue so a crane might be the best option to inspect and clean the statue.

“We've been kind of monitoring as much as possible and trying to work with the state Capitol Preservation Commission … to highlight that that is something that needs to be included in an overall maintenance schedule and budget for the care and maintenance of the Capitol art collection,” she said.

It's hoped the cost could be included in the Capitol repair and renovation work that is scheduled to take place the next couple years, Sharples said. A bill was passed and signed into law this year that provides $60 million each of the next two years to repair the nearly 100-year-old building.

“It is a good time now that the Capitol is going to be renovated that we do stop and look at the piece, and moving forward not only cleaning the piece and making sure that it's in tiptop shape and giving it a barrier to the elements by cleaning it and waxing it and having a professional look at it, but then this will give us an opportunity to assess what equipment is really needed so that we can put it on a very annual schedule,” she said.

“The Guardian,” which stands 17 feet tall and holds a staff that is more than 22 feet tall, hasn't been cleaned or inspected since it was placed on the dome in June 2002, a couple days after exterior work on the dome was finished. The statue is anchored by eight 1-inch-by-4-inch bolts.

“Most of that is just because of its location and its size and because the Capitol structure itself doesn't have a real ease in order to get up there,” Sharples said. “That introduces many different challenges when it comes to getting a professional up there covering those costs because you obviously need additional equipment.”

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