PHILADELPHIA (AP) — "The Burghers" are back.
After months of work to remove years of discoloration and damage from acid rain and pollution, Auguste Rodin's monumental bronze sculpture "The Burghers of Calais" was returned to its pedestal at the Rodin Museum on Friday.
A team of museum and construction workers precisely guided the 6,000-pound sculpture into position while a giant crane slowly lowered it onto its base in the museum's garden. It's a homecoming for "The Burghers," which spent decades outdoors before moving inside in the 1960s due to concerns about pitting and oxidation from exposure to the elements.
Senior conservator Andrew Lins said the restoration was done "in keeping with the aesthetics of the garden and the aesthetics Rodin had for these figures when he was alive."
"We've tried to return them to an appearance close to — not exactly the same as, but close to — that intention of the artist," Lins said.
Technological advances allowed conservators to remove the white streaks and dark buildup that covered "The Burghers" with a laser tool and chemical agents. They then rebuilt the surface patina in layers using chemicals and heat, followed by multiple layers of protective coating to protect the bronze from future weathering.
"It has a sort of polychromatic effect," project conservator Katherine Cuffari said. "It's not a monochromatic surface, it doesn't look like a green Army man or a chocolate casting, it looks like a sculpture and it follows the form. There are greens and browns applied in multiple layers."