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Legacy of Preservation and Conservation


The Fountain of the Four Seasons has had a long history of care and conservation. Like all public works of art, particularly those placed outdoors in the harsh Iowa weather and with water features, routine maintenance is required. The environmental impact on stone sculptures placed in a fountain are another added stressor on the sculptures. Limestone is porous, and with eight decades of flowing water, the details of the Maidens are being washed away.

1970s

  • 1972   The head of the Winter Maiden was repaired after vandalism.

1990s

  • April 1995    Linda Merk-Gould and Joseph Sembrat of Conservation Technical Associates Inc. conducted a general survey of the fountain's condition and obtained samples for testing and analyses.

  • May 1995    Martin Weaver, of Martin Weaver Conservation Consultant Inc., Linda Merk-Gould and Joseph Sembrat conducted further analyses of the fountain's construction and performed cleaning tests for the limestone and terra cotta surfaces.

  • 1996    Conservation project for the Fountain was announced and fundraising began.

  • 1998    Major conservation was completed on the Fountain including removal of the Maidens and terra-cotta ring with off-site conservation treatment by Linda Merk-Gould from Westport, Conn., and apprentice Francis Miller. The fountain received new stainless steel plumbing system and a pool liner. The sculptures and terra-cotta ring were cleaned using ultra-sonic methods and reinstalled in the spring of 1998.  During the summer of 1998 problems arose with algae and the mortar had not cured leaving white sediment on the sculptures. In July 1998, Conservation Technical Associates cleaned the sculptures removing algae and mortar.

2010s

  • 2012    Conservation and major cleaning by Francis Miller, ConservArt LLC.

  • 2016    Conservation by Francis Miller with plumbing work and pool repainting. The ceramic and limestone had discoloration from organic growth, lime deposits, and iron staining. The mortar below a capstone failed. The Fountain was cleaned following procedures set out by ConservArt LLC in 2011.

  • 2018    Conservation by Francis Miller and Kate Greder who noted stress in fountainhead concrete structure and terra cotta ‘corn’ motif, especially in north-east section of the fountainhead.  College of Engineering (Wayne Klaiber) conducted preliminary concrete and soil testing/borings.

2020s

  • 2020    Research conducted by conservator Francis Miller to create a conservation plan for the re-carving and conservation of the Maidens and terra cotta sculptures.

  • November 2022    Current conservation and replication project begins.


 

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