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Diana Conservation ~ January 2019

Members of the Board of Directors and committee members of Friends of Chatham travelled to Russell Bernabo’s studio in Ashland recently to check on the progress of the restoration of the statue of Diana. The terracotta statue had been donated by John Lee Pratt, the last private owner of Chatham, to the Virginia Museum of Fine Art in Richmond in 1959. The statue had been displayed outside at VMFA at one time, but had been placed in storage for many years at the museum. VMFA contacted the National Park Service last year offering to return the statue to Chatham, and was gratefully accepted.

Unfortunately, the late 19th century statue had suffered damage over the years requiring attention before she can again be subjected to the elements. Superintendent Kirsten Talken-Spaulding of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park contacted Friends of Chatham and requested financial assistance with the restoration. Russell Bernabo, a noted conservator of fine objects, has contracted with Friends of Chatham to provide comprehensive conservation to Diana including structural stabilization, compensation for losses, and other treatments in preparation for her return to Chatham this spring.

Rusty Bernabo shared “Most of the damage to the sculpture is localized to a few vulnerable areas that have broken and re-broken several times over the decades. Considering the fragility of the materials and history of outdoor exhibition, Diana survives in overall good condition and after conservation can be maintained by the Park Service preservation team at Chatham.”


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