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Restoration Planned for Philly Icon

Thursday, May 12, 2016

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One of Philadelphia’s most iconic pieces of public art is scheduled for a summer makeover.

The bronze William Penn statue atop City Hall will be cleaned and restored, thanks in part to a recently awarded National Endowment of the Arts grant, according to officials.

William Penn statute
© / Jim Pruitt

Protective coatings will figure prominently in the upcoming project to restore Philadelphia’s William Penn statue atop City Hall.

William, or more affectionately, “Billy,” has been keeping watch over the city atop his perch for more than 120 years.

Project Details

The $250,000 conservation effort will be led by Moorland Studios, of Stockton, NJ, and is expected to be complete in late August. Moorland Studios is familiar with Penn, having directed his past cleaning projects, most recently in 2007.

Philadelphia’s Public Art Director Margot Berg told The Philadelphia Inquirer that this summer’s maintenance regimen would entail a thorough cleaning with detergent, scrubbing, inspection of the bronze, and the application of a corrosion inhibitor and new wax coating.

This type of restoration needs to be performed every 10 years to keep Penn in tip-top shape, she said.

“We think of this sculpture as sort of the iconic piece in the city,” Berg said. “It’s very symbolic for Philadelphia, and it’s important for us to maintain so visitors and residents for generations to come are able to enjoy seeing the piece and visiting the observation deck and looking up at him.”

The city’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy plans to share images and project updates of Penn’s restoration via social media, a photo gallery and film.

Iconic Art

Sculptor Alexander Milne Calder completed the 37-foot-tall, 53,000 pound statue in the early 1890s, modeled after the founder of Philadelphia.

Calder also fashioned the 250-plus sculptures that adorn the City Hall building.


Tagged categories: Artists; Corrosion protection; Historic Structures; Maintenance + Renovation; Maintenance coating work; Monuments; North America; Renovation; Restoration

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