You never know where helpful hints will come from in the world of restoration. When Mr. and Mrs. Hazelwood of Tennessee dropped by to check out the work that’s being performed on the Apollo section of the Vatican Gardens they’ve adopted in honor the memory of their daughter and niece, they were able to talk to the restorers about the new techniques they are using to keep the statuary clear of moss and other biological material that affects the stone masterpieces. The restoration of this section is part of a pilot project that will flower into a strategy of conservation for all the statuary in the gardens.
As one aspect of this, restorers just began testing a new restoration technique adopted from the invention of a farmer in Iowa. And it was a Patron that suggested it! The homeopathic agent, an American product known as “Moss Buster”, is cleaner and less abrasive than the biocides that restorers used in the past to clean the outdoor statues. Also it is more effective – with the cleaning lasting much longer than ever before. Previously, even with modern chemicals, staining moss would return in just a couple months. The Moss Buster kills what is on the surface and restorers then perform a further removal with a gel product that is spread over the surface. When the gel hardens, they peel it off leaving a clean statuary underneath. Director of the Vatican Museums Restoration Laboratory for Stone, Guy Devreux, calls Moss Buster “a huge help in the atmosphere in the gardens.” After the peel, restorers have begun applying essential oil of oregano, a final protective measure that keeps the statue clean and prevents it from yellowing. A chemical peel and essential oil rub-down? Sounds like a nice day at the spa.
Thanks to our patrons, an Iowa farmer, and Moss Buster, our statues are restored to their natural beauty and can be more easily maintained. The Hazelwoods were so glad to hear that their patronage went toward this important innovation in outdoor restoration and so are we! It means that supporting the gardens is even easier and donations go further. Adopting a section of the gardens is a particularly rewarding experience as it connects the natural and man made worlds with the history and spirituality of the Vatican. It is rewarding to see the continual growth and beauty in that counterbalance. Something truly delightful to share with all our visitors.
This Wednesday, Director of the Vatican Museums, Antonio Paolucci visited the gardens to oversee the progress and talk to restorers and curators. He was amazed at the results of the restoration and was happily surprised to hear that the Patrons were critical in revealing a new technique. The collaboration of the Patrons in restoration always uncovers surprises!
If you would like to adopt part of the Vatican Gardens see our WISHBOOK 2015 Projects online, here: http://www.vatican-patrons.org/restorations/restoration-needs