“Free Stamp” Conservation Project Begins!

Free Stamp and sign

ICA’s “Free Stamp” conservation project began May 5, 2014

ICA has been retained by the City of Cleveland and The Sculpture Center to restore Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen’s monumental sculpture, the Free Stamp, to like-new condition. After years of weathering and deterioration endured by this iconic artistic treasure, the City of Cleveland recognized the need to preserve this Cleveland landmark for future generations.

ICA has a long and rich history of working to preserve our region’s artistic and cultural heritage, treating important public artworks around Cleveland, including the murals at Playhouse Square, WPA era murals for the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority, and a variety of projects for the Cleveland Public Library and City Hall. ICA is overseeing a complete conservation treatment of the Free Stamp beginning Monday, May 5, 2014.

The Free Stamp conservation project, initiated by The Sculpture Center, is a unique collaboration of the City of Cleveland and the technical experts at ICA and Thomarios. ICA is leading a team of national experts in several specialties, including outdoor sculpture conservation, and its importance is not lost on ICA’s staff. “I am honored to be involved in restoring the Free Stamp, and look forward to seeing it through to completion.” said Mark Erdmann, Objects Conservator at ICA. The Free Stamp is not the first of Oldenburg’s works to be treated by ICA. ICA has worked on the Giant Three-Way Plug of the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin, Ohio, and the Inverted Q of the Akron Art Museum. Thomarios, an Akron-based firm with expertise in restoration and metal coatings, will provide technical support for the treatment and restoration.

Commissioned in 1982 by the Standard Oil Company of Ohio, the Free Stamp was created by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Brueggen, installed in its current location of Willard Park near Cleveland’s City Hall in 1991. Mr. Oldenburg has been consulted by ICA in the Free Stamp project, and contributed to the aesthetic decisions made regarding specifics of the treatment, ensuring that the results remain faithful to his and Van Brueggen’s original vision for the artwork. All interior and exterior surfaces will be thoroughly prepared and repainted using high-performance coatings matched to the original colors provided by the fabricator, Lippincott Inc., of New Haven, CT.

ICA – Art Conservation is grateful for the generous support we receive from the community through  grants from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture and the Ohio Arts Council, which make projects like this possible.

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