Although vandalism of public art is almost unheard of in Cambridge, outdoor sculptures and murals are vulnerable to the weather and air pollution. In 1996, CAC initiated a Conservation and Maintenance Program to provide consistent professional care for its collection. Following an assessment of each artwork, the sculptures and murals most urgently in need of repairs were promptly restored. Art conservators now provide ongoing maintenance to ensure that any damage is rectified in a timely and professional manner. They monitor the collection, develop annual treatment plans, and supervise interns and technicians in cleaning the artworks as needed. Conservators also provide artists with advice on materials, construction techniques, and preventative measures for new public artworks. The program was a First Place winner of the Save Outdoor Sculpture! national 1998 Achievement Award.

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


For transcripts of the case studies presented in Material Choice
click here


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.

Cambridge Arts Council is supported in part by the City of Cambridge, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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