:: Calendar of Events

Initiated in 1996, the Cambridge Arts Council's award-winning Conservation and Maintenance Program provides consistent and professional care to its growing collection, and is nationally recognized as a model in the public art field through professional practice, workshops, and information posted on its website. The program was a First Place winner of Heritage Preservation's Save Outdoor Sculpture Achievement Award in 1998, hosted the first-ever international inter-disciplinary conference on the conservation of public art in 2001, resulting in the book, Conservation and Maintenance of Contemporary Public Art, and presented the exhibit “Material Choice: Conservation, Science, and Public Art” in 2007. Staff presented a workshop at the Americans for the Arts Conference in 2010, published an article on public art conservation in the Getty Newsletter in 2012, and gave a talk on Pre-Fabrication Conservation Reviews at a New England Foundation for the Arts meeting in 2013.  The next phase of the program will be to develop a database program specific to the care of public art.

Conservation & Maintenance Program
The Cambridge Arts Council's Conservation and Maintenance Program provides consistent and professional care to its growing collection. Starting in 1996, following assessments of every artwork in the collection, an annual maintenance program was developed, directly overseen by a conservator and carried out by conservators or conservation technicians. Sculptures and murals in need of treatment are prioritized and treated under a long-range plan, and in-depth records and materials information is kept in the archives. Notably, the program has developed a Pre-Fabrication Conservation Review process, in which materials, techniques, predicted longevity, and artists' wishes are all considered in the maintenance plan. Conservators also provide information and advice to artists and fabricators and oversee installation.

:: The Getty Conservation Institute, Conservation Perspectives: The GCI Newsletter,
Conservation of Public Art, Rika Smith McNally & Lillian Hsu, Fall 2012

Cambridge Arts Council Presents Workshop at Americans for the Arts Annual Conference in Baltimore, MD
June 24 & 25, 201
:: Read about CAC at the Conference
:: Workshop Summary
:: Download AFTA Workshop Hand-out Cover Sheet
:: Download AFTA Workshop Hand-out 

Rika Smith McNally Joins CAC Staff as Public Art Conservator in 2010 
Rika Smith McNally, BFA, MS, FAIC, previously worked as a conservator at the Harvard University Art Museums, and opened her private practice in 1995. Her clients include major museums, outdoor sculpture gardens, government agencies, and artists. The conservation of public art is her passion, and she looks forward to her new role in Cambridge.
Read an interview with Rika Smith McNally (March 2010) 

 material choice

Material Choice: Conservation, Science & Public Art
an exhibition at CAC Gallery
April 9 - May 4, 2007



The Cambridge Arts Council is pleased to announce the availability of a new publication, Conservation and Maintenance of Contemporary Public Art, published by Archetype Publication Ltd. This resource, edited by Arts Council employee Hafthor Yngvason, brings together 27 papers presented at an international conference on contemporary public art conservation organized by the Arts Council in October 2001. The publication features essays by some of the most renowned artists, administrators, critics and conservators working in the field of public art and highlights the City's Public Art Conservation and Maintenance program as well as several prominent public artworks contained in the City's collection.

The book is available through the Americans for the Arts bookstore in the public art section.

   A decade after its installation in Canal Park, William Wainwright's Nevergreen Tree (1987) had turned gray and lifeless, betrayed by the natural elements that it was created to celebrate. The mylar-covered leaves, designed to move gently in the wind and deflect sunrays into prismatic light, had cracked in the hot sun and with sharp changes in temperature. After restoration, the sculpture has regained its former luster, the reflective surfaces shooting rays of colorful light in all directions.
   In the 23 years since it was painted, Ellary's mural on the Inman Square Firehouse had become an enduring feature in a changing neighborhood and a celebrated memorial to firefighters. Over the same period the colors faded and the paint started peeling. The mural was restored in 1999 and rededicated with appropriate grandeur at the Cambridge Fire Department's Annual Medal Day.