Adopt A Monument! Cleans Up Kansas City Sculpture
The Adopt A Monument! program in Kansas City, Missouri, has been working to save local sculptures since the original SOS! survey, reporting on more than 200 sculptures. Of those, 29 were deemed to need conservation treatment, and the program has focused on 20 sculptures with owners most likely to be receptive to conservation efforts. Working with the City of Fountains Foundation, Adopt A Monument! has seen its work pay off: 11 sculptures have been adopted or conserved, and over $200,000 in funding has been raised. No state or local funds have been used to conserve the monuments: all funds and in-kind donations came from individuals, corporations, and foundations.
Recent activities include a spring maintenance training and cleaning project in May at Massacoit, an bronze Indian by Cyrus Dallin, located at Main and Emanuel Cleaver Boulevard. A fall training project will be held in October at Diana (a sculpture by Bernhard Zuckermann) at the southwest corner of Wornall Road and Ward Parkway. The monument, installed in 1971 at the Alameda Plaza Hotel, now the Fairmont Hotel on the Plaza, was adopted by the hotel in 1996. Adopt A Monument! conservators will instruct the employees of the hotel and representatives of several local municipalities in proper bronze cleaning methods.
Adopt A Monument! received a $6,000 grant in August from the Miller Nichols Charitable Trust to conserve The Wagon Master (by L.E. Gus Shafer), installed in 1973 as a gift from the Miller Nichols family. Conservation treatment is scheduled for mid October. The audio box that is part of the site, with two 5-minute tapes that depict life on the Santa Fe Trail and the Battle of Westport, is inoperable. Adopt A Monument! is investigating the possibility of installing two waterproof boxes on podiums to replace the existing one.
In August, Adopt A Monument! presented a request to the Public Interest Advisory Committee to redesign the site around The Scout (by Cyrus Dallin) in Penn Valley Park. A local bank has been asked to support the conservation and a maintenance endowment. The program also hopes the conservation of the George Washington monument at Grand Blvd. and Pershing road, slated for October, will lead to an endowment for this landmark from local businesses and foundations.
Only three of the adopted sculptures have compete endowments; a couple have partial endowments. The endowed monuments receive semi-annual professional treatment. Organizations that have adopted monuments are invited to the program's semiannual maintenance training, given by volunteer conservators from the Nelson Atkins museum.
Joannie Shields, coordinator of the Kansas City Adopt A Monument! program, says, "Since our original SOS! survey of outdoor public sculptures in 1992, we have surveyed an additional 70 monuments and have an additional 50 to survey and add to the database at the Smithsonian. I would say honestly that if it were not for our SOS! project and the local grass roots effort, the recent conservation of local monuments would not have been possible." The program is calling for volunteers to add the information to the Smithsonian Inventory of American Sculpture and has asked 11 local cities for volunteers to survey any additions they have made since 1992.
Photos: Volunteers with Adopt A Monument! in Kansas City, Missouri, clean Elmwood Cemetery monuments.