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Odysseus and Gabriel Return to Galleries

Photo: The Archangel Gabriel on its way back to the Gothic Room

In May, we reported on the cleaning of major marble sculptures in the Courtyard, including Odysseus. This creeping figure is back again in the perch visible from the elevator of the historic building and through the Courtyard garden. The statue was reinstalled last week after being cleaned in the conservation labs. The courtyard conservation project continues to progress, with many other pieces now complete, including the Goddess in the northeast corner, and the Throne on the east side of the mosaic floor. Conservation is currently cleaning the child-sized sarcophagus and will move to clean the Artemis statue last. To see the progress, visit the courtyard where you can compare the works which have undergone cleaning with those still in progress.

Gabriel Returns to the Gothic Room
In the Gothic and Dutch Rooms, many pieces were deinstalled during construction of the new wing, among them a 19th century Italian sculpture of the Archangel Gabriel. Because Gabriel is displayed in a hard-to-reach location high above the choirstall, conservation took this opportunity to clean the sculpture before reinstalling it.

The Archangel Gabriel is a gilt copper-alloy sculpture that Isabella Gardner once displayed in her conservatory at Green Hill. Gardner was told that the large hole in the angel’s chest (and smaller holes elsewhere on the piece) was caused by a shell during the Risorgimento or Italian Unification. Gabriel was cleaned by the Museum’s former conservation technician Colleen O’Shea, and in the process she discovered a bird’s nest inside of the chest hole. We can’t be certain, but it may have been made during its time in Gardner’s conservatory. Because the bird’s nest was not causing any damage, nor is it visible, it was left in place.

See the Archangel Gabriel’s reinstallation—and the rest of the story—in this photo gallery on the Museum’s Facebook page. (You don't need to be a Facebook member to see the photos.) Because he was too large to fit in the elevator, Gabriel had to be carried up the main stairs of the historic building.

The Courtyard Sculpture Conservation Project has been made possible in part by generous funding from Ed and Anne Teppo.