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Pennsylvania Academy Sculpture Plaster Cast Restorations

Parthenon Frieze Restorations



Sometime during my first year as a sculpture major at the PAFA, a couple fellow sculptors and I noticed a great many of the antique collection of plaster casts had been badly damaged due to improper storage while the Academy was going through building renovations. Many of the damaged casts had been roughly removed from the walls where they had been mounted for years.

We spoke to the Dean, who was in favor of finding a grant for us to begin work. We asked sculptor instructor Alexander Hromych for his technical advice and he came in once a week for the first summer to help us get started.

The following are just a few of the sculptures we restored during 1979-1984. They should give you an idea of how we went about the process. Please note that we "restored" these plasters and didn't "conserve" them. The grant wasn't sufficiant to do the latter. For example, we used real plaster on most all the repairs, while a conservator may have used a reversable poly-plaster material. In the end our goal was to restore the most damaged works first and remount them to the walls of the Academy so the students could once again appreciate them.


Mike Keropian and Ken DiPretoro



Refining and assembly of plaster fragments. Preparing to glue the puzzle.
Gluing and clamping. Remodeling the sculptured forms.
Once the glue is cured the relief panels are flipped and cleaned. Remodeling and refining sculpture.
Preparing oak strips for reinforcing the back of the panels. Preparing panels for reinforcing.

Laying in the plaster. Oak strips, steel pins and jute were used in the original castings of these panels.

The glue was not enough to hold the broken panels together so we had to back each of the panels with the wood, burlap and plaster. Completed backing of the panels
Before After



Alex applying patina to a panel. PAFA Antique Cast Restoration Continues...Part 2.


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