Relocation and conservation of a Roman sculpture of the goddess Juno, early second century A.D.:
January 2012, Preparation for installation
Relocation from the Brandegee Estate to indoor storage before the onset of winter was a crucial first step towards the sculpture’s long-term preservation. However, further work to stabilize the torso continues in storage, so that in the spring, the sculpture will be ready for installation in the Behrakis Gallery.
A solid steel plate is prepared for attachment to the underside of the sculpture’s marble base. To provide stability during the upcoming eighty-foot airlift into the Museum, the plate will be bolted to the steel cradle, which continues to keep the figure encased. The steel plate is designed to also serve as an interface to the pedestal on which the sculpture will be displayed.
To allow the marble base to receive the steel plate, four holes are created for anchors by diamond core-drilling into the base. In addition, two stainless steel pins are installed with structural epoxy twenty inches deep to reinforce the narrow section of the sculpture’s ankles, which bear the majority of the load.
Repeated fitting of the steel plate is required during the drilling process to ensure alignment of the holes.
Gaps between the marble base and the steel plate are filled with grout, fed through a funnel and flexible tubing.
Parallel to the work on the torso, treatment of the head begins in the lab. Conservators assess the damage caused by the rusted pin and discuss methods for its removal.
The following close-up shows the severe cracking in the marble neck, a consequence of the rusting pin and the resulting volume expansion. Furthermore, it is clear that the corroded pin had mineralized and bonded to the inside wall of the marble.
After the iron pin is removed by diamond core-drilling and cracks are consolidated, the missing back section of the neck is modeled in clay (and subsequently cast in plaster) to provide a solid base when the head is reinstalled.
Given the condition, conservators determine that had the head not been detached prior to the move, the fractured neck would likely have suffered additional damage.