Nevelson Conservation Update

Conservation of "Atmosphere and Environment XII" by Louise Nevelson
Conservation of Atmosphere and Environment XII by Louise Nevelson. Photo © 2004, Association for Public Art.

The Fairmount Park Art Association has worked with conservators at the Philadelphia Museum of Art to provide comprehensive conservation treatment for the monumental abstract Cor-Ten (weathering steel) sculpture Atmosphere and Environment XII (1970) by Louise Nevelson (1899-1988). The sculpture had become severely disfigured due to “corrosion jacking” caused by moisture seeping between its metal plates.

Work on the sculpture included plate straightening; setscrew extractions; devising a structural replacement method for corroded setscrew holes through milling and the insertion of steel plugs; edge compensation and milling; research and comparative testing for various coatings for protection and loss compensation, artificial patination methods, and Cor-Ten welding techniques; and repair and refitting of the concrete and stone base.

In the last phase of treatment, the individual box elements were assembled off-site and installed as units. Reinstallation of the sculpture took place over two weeks in April. Philadelphia Daily News photojournalist David Maialetti documented the reinstallataion process in an audio slideshow that can be viewed here.

Funding for the conservation has been provided by The Getty Foundation, the Federal Save America’s Treasures program, and the Locks Foundation.

Conservator at the drillpress extracting corroded setscrews for Atmosphere and Environment XII sculpture by Louise Nevelson
Conservator at the drill press extracting corroded setscrews. Photo Sara Creange © 2004 for the Association for Public Art.


Related Artworks


Atmosphere and Environment XII


by Louise Nevelson (1899 - 1988)

University of Pennsylvania, Shoemaker Green (east of 33rd Street between Walnut and Spruce Streets)

Atmosphere and Environment XII is a product of the mature style of Louise Nevelson, one of the most influential artists of the decades following World War II.

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