Our studio’s work includes the restoration and conservation of bronze, copper, stone, plaster, wood, terracotta and resin sculpture and architectural elements.  We have conserved antique sculpture and monuments including the sculptural elements of the Old State House in Boston, the antique plaster cast collection at Yale University, and the Sunken Garden Fountains at the Elms in Newport for which we were awarded the Society’s Laurel Award.

Some other projects we have completed can be seen at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Boston Public Library; the Slater Museum, Connecticut; as well as many National Park Service sites.  Our conservation work is sometimes combined with making replications of missing fragments of sculpture or complete pieces.  Sometimes it is also the intent of the institution or owner to conserve the original for indoor display and place a replica outdoors. At other times our expertise in modeling, moldmaking and casting is used to create replications. The scope of our work ranges from small objects owned by private clients to large institutional collections. Our studio’s extensive experience with traditional methods, as well as our utilization of newer materials, has enabled us to excel in the field of conservation.

Our process includes a report outlining the existing conditions of the object or sculpture. Both structural and surface conditions are noted in detail supplemented with photo references. We then draft a proposed treatment report which addresses critical details such as reversibility (more on this below), choice of materials and methods, options for treatment, the schedule, and costs. After acceptance of the proposed treatment, we proceed with the conservation and/or restoration work and document it as we progress. When our work is completed, a final treatment report is submitted. Other concerns we may address are future maintenance, mounting, and ongoing surveillance of fragile objects.

Regarding reversibility in restoration, we believe in most cases that as much of the original sculpture should be left intact. By maintaining the aesthetic condition and the object’s visual history, completed reversible treatments will potentially not change nor lessen the value of the piece. With this in mind, we may keep the antique patina of the sculpture or plaster cast intact, and if there are areas of damaged patina or areas where we have performed structural restorations that require repatination, we will repatinate those areas to match the original surrounding tones. At other times, the patinas on the sculptures or plaster casts may be severely damaged throughout the entire surface. In these cases, it is often necessary to completely strip the patina and then repatinate the entire piece in order to make it aesthetically acceptable. If this is the case, we try to reflect in the new finish what the original intent or appearance of the piece would have been. Ultimately, we think every object needs its own unique evaluation of proposed treatment.

Selected Projects

Old State House Restorations and Reproductions

Skylight Studios worked directly with the National Park Service and the historic preservation architects to restore the hundred-year-old antique sculptures and ornaments at the Old State House in Boston in 1911. We also recreated the Simon Willard Clock face and the Massachusetts State Seal which were nonexistent. We worked from archival images in order to ensure the accuracy of the recreated works.

Preservation Society of Newport County Restorations and Reproductions

For decades we have provided restoration and reproduction services to the Preservation Society of Newport County, the steward of the Newport Mansions in Newport, Rhode Island. We have completed a variety of projects, from creating reproductions of figural groups to restoring stone benches. Reproductions are often desired to replace outdoor sculpture that has suffered from damage or deterioration.

Adams Memorial Restoration (Plaster Cast)

In 2009, Skylight Studios, in collaboration with the National Park Service, restored the archival plaster of the Adams Memorial held in the collection of the Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park in New Hampshire. The conservation treatment was performed in preparation for an exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. The restoration included a reversible mechanical attachment system to the internal armature, removal of loose surface dirt, consolidation of all break edges, chips and losses, and reconstruction of larger losses.

Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Regiment Memorial Restoration

The memorial by Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907) on the Boston Common consists of a large bronze relief approximately 11’-6” high by 14’ wide set within a stone surround. In 2020 to 2021, the National Park Service, the City of Boston, the Friends of the Public Garden, and the Museum of African American History coordinated a major restoration of the memorial. We were part of a team of conservators and specialists tasked with ensuring the safe restoration, deinstallation, transportation, and reinstallation of the bronze relief. Work was performed in the studio to restore structural damage to the bronze including the recreation of Shaw’s sword blade in PVC and to clean the bronze, renew the patina, and apply protective coatings of incralac and wax.

Faneuil Hall Grasshopper Weathervane Conservation

We conserved and re-gilded the famous grasshopper weathervane that sits atop the cupola of Boston’s Faneuil Hall in 1991 while the Hall was being renovated. The work was completed in our studio, and before being reinstalled, the weathervane was exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts. The sculpture was created by Shem Drowne and installed in 1742. It also acts as a time capsule.

Old State House Lion & Unicorn Restorations

By 2014, the Lion and Unicorn sculptures that grace the roof of Boston’s Old State House were in need of restoration. We had performed restorations on these sculptures in the past, and the Bostonian Society (now Revolutionary Spaces) and the National Park Service reached out to us. The Lion and Unicorn were deinstalled and restored in our studio. The restoration included re-gilding the copper sculptures. The head of the lion held a time capsule which was relocated to the base instead.

Art and Science Sculptures Restorations

Art and Science were sculpted by Bela Pratt and installed on the front steps of the Boston Public Library in 1912. The Library reached out for restoration services in 2014. We touched up the patina on the bronzes and gave them new protective coatings and cleaned the stonework.

A. Piatt Andrew Bridge Bronze Doors Restoration

The four bronze doors on the bridge over the Annisquam River in Gloucester, MA were installed in the 1950s. Sculpted by John Francis Paramino and cast by the foundry T.F. McGann & Sons, there are two designs, both cast in duplicate. One design depicts a portrait in profile of A. Piatt Andrew – the statesman who the bridge is named after – and the other illustrates scenes of fishermen and the harbor. Working in collaboration with Cianbro Corporation during the major rehabilitation of the bridge, we restored the bronze doors by cleaning them down to the original metal surface and applying a new patina and protective coatings. We also inventoried the doors and door components and repaired the door frames and other damaged components. We reinstalled these beautiful works of art in 2015.

John Harvard Statue Restoration

The famous monument at Harvard University consists of an approximately 5-foot-high bronze sculpture of a figure sitting in a chair on a granite base with bronze reliefs. In 2021, we cleaned the bronzes, renewed the patina, and applied protective coatings of incralac and wax. We cleaned the granite base as well. Now the monument looks as it would have originally and is also protected from future damage from the elements.

Nathaniel Hawthorne Statue Restoration

Located on Hawthorne Boulevard in Salem, MA, the monument consists of a 9-foot-high bronze sculpture of the famed writer sitting on a rock atop a large granite base. The treatment completed in 2017 included cleaning the granite base, repointing the joints of the granite, cleaning the bronze, renewing the bronze’s patina, and applying protective coatings of incralac and wax to the bronze.

Altar Restoration

The altar at St. John’s Church in Worcester, MA was missing several major sculptural elements that had once existed. Using only historic black-and-white photos, Skylight Studios was able to restore the altar to its original beauty in 2010. By resculpting the statues of St. Joseph and Mary, as well as the lambs, scroll and domes, it now looks as it once did almost 100 years ago.

U.S.S. Kearsarge Memorial Restoration

The memorial is located in Marine Park in Boston. It consists of an anchor and chain from the U.S.S. Kearsarge atop a concrete base and was dedicated in 1930 to Naval officers of the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and World War I. By 2021, the memorial was in disrepair, and the dedication plaque was missing from the base. Skylight Studios and the Department of Conservation and Recreation determined that the anchor and chain should be restored, the concrete base should be replaced with a new granite base, the missing plaque should be recreated as accurately as possible, and a new plaque should be created to note the restoration and rededication of the memorial. The anchor and chain were deinstalled from the base which was demolished, restored off site, and finally installed on site on a granite base with the same design as the original. The plaques were installed on the base as well.

Soldiers and Sailors Civil War Monument Restoration

This monument is located in Attleboro, MA. Three bronze figures adorn a tall, approximately 35-foot-high granite shaft with two wings at its sides. In 2019, work was performed to better secure the Flagbearer statue, recreate the four missing cannonballs in granite, recreate the Sailor statue’s sword in bronze, clean the granite base, remove corrosion from the bronzes, renew the bronzes’ patina, and apply protective coatings of incralac and wax to the bronzes.

St. Mary’s Hall Relief Sculptures Restoration

We participated in the renovation of the historic building at Boston College led by the architectural firm DiMella Shaffer of Boston. We collaborated with McGinley Kalsow & Associates, Inc. of Somerville, MA from 2012 to 2014 on the restoration of the stone exterior by restoring the numerous relief sculptures and ornament.