The City of Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy oversees the Conservation and Collection Management activities of more than 1,000 sculptures, reliefs, mosaics, stained glass pieces, paintings, and murals throughout the city. The program initiates and oversees professional conservation treatments and repairs to what is believed to be the nation’s largest and oldest municipal collection of public art. Artworks are selected for conservation based upon severity of condition, prominence, historic and artistic significance, and importance to the local community.

Read on to learn more about the recent conservation of six public artworks, all owned by the City of Philadelphia.

Alexander von Humboldt

Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) was a naturalist, astronomer, explorer, geographer, politician, diplomat, and important symbol of Germanic culture. Commissioned by the German Citizens of Philadelphia, the statue was gifted to the City of Philadelphia in 1876 and unveiled as part of local Centennial celebrations. Materials Conservation LLC recently restored the Alexander von Humboldt statue in anticipation of Humboldt’s 250th Birthday Celebration on September 14, 2019.
: Friedrich Johann Heinrich Drake
Date: 1871; installed 1876; relocated 1977
Medium: Bronze / Granite Base
Location: Martin Luther King Jr. Drive at Black Road, West Fairmount Park

The Medicine Man

The Medicine Man is a bronze equestrian statue that portrays an Indigenous American medicine man. In Native American cultures, a medicine man or woman is a traditional healer and spiritual leader. The statue was cast in 1899 and was exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1899 where it won a silver medal. It was purchased by the Association for Public Art and was dedicated in Philadelphia on December 10, 1903. The Medicine Man is part of Dallin’s four-piece series called “The Epic of the Indian,” which also includes A Signal of Peace (1890) located in Lincoln Park, Chicago, Protest of the Sioux (1904) exhibited at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, and Appeal to the Great Spirit (1909) located in front of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. The recent conservation of this statue was performed by Kreilick Conservation LLC.
Artists: Cyrus E. Dallin
Date: 1899
Medium: Bronze / Granite Base
Location: Dauphin Street west of 33rd Street, East Fairmount Park

William McKinley Memorial

William McKinley was the 25th president of the United States, serving from March 4, 1897 until his assassination six months into his second term. Following the assassination, the Philadelphia Inquirer initiated a public subscription to erect a proper memorial and worked with the Association for Public Art to commission the artwork. McKinley himself was associated with the city’s monuments having dedicated the Washington and Grant memorials. The McKinley Memorial was vandalized in February 2018 during the Eagles Super Bowl parade. Vandals broke off the laurel branch in the female allegorical figure’s hand. For this treatment, Kreilick Conservation LLC recast the missing element in bronze and reattached it to the sculpture through a combination of additional welds and pins connecting the laurel to the sculpture.
Artists: Charles Albert Lopez and Isidore Konti
Date: 1908
Medium: Bronze / Granite Base
Location: City Hall, South Plaza

General Galusha Pennypacker Memorial

Uriah Galusha Pennypacker (June 1, 1841/1844 – October 1, 1916) was a native of Chester County, Pennsylvania and, at age 22, became the youngest general to serve in the Civil War as a Union general. The General Pennypacker Memorial Committee sponsored this monument in collaboration with the State Art Commission. The basic concept for the sculpture was developed by Charles Grafly who died before the memorial could be completed. Grafly’s student Albert Laessle took over and completed the project. Materials Conservation LLC performed a conservation treatment on the artwork in early October 2019.
: Albert Laessle (Initial Concept by Charles Grafly)
Date: 1934
Medium: Bronze / Granite Base
Location: Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 19th Street

The Family

Commissioned by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority’s Percent for Art Program, The Family represents an African American family and is one of the few realistic interpretations of a family in Philadelphia’s public art collection. The family is posed together and look out over a courtyard in a residential development. For the conservation treatment, Kreilick Conservation, LLC cleaned the bronze statue and brick pedestal with a specialized detergent and applied a protective wax coating to the pre-heated surface of the sculpture.
: Charles Parks
Date: 1970
Medium: Bronze / Brick Pedestal
Location: Hoffman Place, 843 Hoffman Place

Don Quixote de la Mancha

The bronze statue is an exact replica of the original sculpture by the artist Joaquin Garcia Donaire located in Ciudad Real, Spain. Don Quixote de la Mancha was presented by the Provincial Government of Ciudad Real to the City of Philadelphia as a token of friendship and understanding between our two cultures. Before undergoing conservation treatment by Kreilick Conservation LLC, the statue had been boxed for its protection during construction work for the American Street improvement project.
: Joaquin Garcia Donaire
Date: 1997
Medium: Bronze / Granite Base
Location: Corner of North American and 2nd Streets