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‘Gay Liberation’ conservation, another monumental moment

Monuments need TLC, too.

A few days before Gay Pride Weekend, the Parks Department did its annual care and preservation of George Segal’s “Gay Liberation Monument” in Christopher Park.

Conducting the public sculpture’s preservation treatment were monuments conservator John Saunders and monuments conservation technician Rebecca Rosen.

John Saunders and Rebecca Rosen applied a proprietary white coating to the George Segal sculptures. (Courtesy NYC Parks Department)

After cleaning the four figures and the two steel benches that are also part of the sculpture, Saunders and Rosen renewed the protective artwork’s white coating by heating the bronze and applying a specially formulated lacquer-and-wax finish infused with titanium white pigment. The benches were also repainted with black paint.

In addition, the Parks Department staffers took the opportunity this year to train a couple of National Park Service field workers in methods and practices of preserving the sculpture.

The monument includes two couples and also two metal benches. (Courtesy NYC Parks Department)

Dedicated on June 23, 1992, the monument commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Riots at the nearby Stonewall Inn, the birthplace of the Gay Pride movement. The figures feature Segal’s signature white coating.

In 2016, Christopher Park and the “Gay Liberation Monument” were federalized as part of the Stonewall National Monument, becoming the first U.S. national monument dedicated to L.G.B.T. history.

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