Spas are popular destinations where ladies and gentlemen visit to seek care for their outer layers. What happens when the epidermis in need of care belongs to a lady or gentleman made of bronze? That’s a question for Sarah Hutt, Collections Care Manager for the Friends of the Public Garden, who designs and implements spa regiments for bronze figures on a regular basis. The Friends cares for more than 40 pieces of sculpture and memorials on Boston Common, in the Public Garden, and on Commonwealth Avenue Mall.
Recently, on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, the Boston Women’s Memorial ladies; Abigail Adams, Phillis Wheatley, and Lucy Stone; and the statues of Leif Eriksson and John Glover were cleaned as part of the Friends ongoing maintenance program. The figures of the Women’s Memorial were washed and waxed. On the Glover and Eriksson statues, “the bronze is protected with a coating of Incralac, a shellac-type coating used for bronze, which is then covered with layers of wax,” according to Hutt.
If cleanings and treatments are not done on a regular basis, the coatings break down and the bronze can be damaged when it is exposed to air and other elements. “The bright green colors you sometimes see on statuary are the visible signs of oxidation, which means that piece is at risk of suffering serious damage. However, a little green tint is normal because there is a green colorant called a “patina” used to color the wax and give the statue a weathered look,” says Hutt.
It can cost a few hundred dollars to perform preventative maintenance on these works of arts, but once the damage passes a certain point, it could cost thousands to get it back in good condition. “Fortunately our proactive cleaning program has stabilized the collection and is saving the bronze works for generations to come,” adds Hutt.
Boston Common area residents are using the new Boston Common Off-Leash Dog Area, and as for their four-legged friends it is a tail-wagging experience all around. In this specially designated area of America’s first public park, marked by signage, dogs are allowed to go off-leash. What makes this program unique is that it does not require a fence; it is the first area of its kind to be approved by the city. Kimberly Annon, Beacon Hill resident and member of a group The Common Canine, visits Boston Common daily with her dog “Eighty” and finds that she is part of a “regular” group that generally follows the same schedule. “We are glad to have a space to bring our dogs where they are not breaking the rules,” says Annon. “Stopping in this area at the same time every morning and seeing the same people and their dogs really builds a good sense of community,” she adds. The Friends, in collaboration with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department and dog owners from the community who formed into the Friends sub-group Common Canine, developed the plan that provides meaningful recreation for dogs on Boston Common, protects turf and plantings from overuse, and minimizes interference with other users’ quiet enjoyment of the park. Approved by the Parks Commission in 2013, the Program aims to engage dog owners as active stewards of the park, to establish and enforce clear rules and expectations around dogs in the park, and to create a long-term, sustainable mechanism for restoring and renewing those areas of the park that are used for dog recreation. Dog owners and The Common Canine group have plans to ramp up their involvement in upcoming community events to let other dog owners know about the area and how they can support it.
The Friends of the Public Garden has been working in partnership with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department to care for the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall for 44 years. The results of our work are well known and appreciated, such as tree and sculpture care in these parks, yet the majority of people recently asked about the Friends were largely unaware of our organization. This was the finding in a survey conducted by top-notch communications agency Hill Holiday in late 2013 as part of a generous pro bono project, a project made possible thanks to a connection made through Friends Council member Ron Druker. That finding came as no surprise. In fact, our leadership team had already been working on a plan to move the Friends organization forward and raise its profile, which culminated in the Strategic Plan, 2014-2018.
A new visibility campaign designed by Hill Holiday is aimed at introducing the Friends to a broader audience who know and love the parks we serve, but may be unaware of our central role in their care yesterday, today, and the role we plan to play in raising their level of excellence in the future. The first stop on the trek to raise visibility is signage appearing on donated advertising space on roughly 50 MBTA bus shelters and information kiosks, which prominently feature a new logo designed by Hill Holiday. Signage on buses and subways cars will follow. We hope that those who already know the Friends enjoy seeing our name and image around town, and we look forward to welcoming new Friends to connect with us.
Celebrate America’s pastime as the Boston Red Sox, the Highland Street Foundation, and the Boston Parks and Recreation Department team up to bring three Red Sox away games to the Boston Common on Sunday, July 27. Bring a blanket to watch the game on the big screen and cheer on the Red Sox! Everyone is welcome at this free event featuring live viewing of the game, caricaturists, balloon artists, face painters, giveaways, and refreshments. Special guests include Red Sox mascot Wally, Red Sox DJ TJ Connelly, Announcer Henry Mahegan, Organist Josh Kantor, and the Hot Tamales Brass Band.
Sunday, July 27, 1:40 p.m. – Boston Common, corner of Charles and Beacon Streets, Boston
“When spring finally came, the rose bushes burst into life, rising day by day toward the sun,” according to The Boston Globe piece Public Garden’s roses delight after winter’s bite. The article, written by Peter Schworm, celebrates the dazzling blooms that draw so many to the Public Garden, and tells the behind-the-scenes story of their care. A volunteer group of the Friends, the Rose Brigade, has been working in collaboration with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department for years to care for these treasured bushes that adorn America’s first public botanical garden.
The Brigade is made up of men and women of all ages. Newcomers are happily welcomed, as are occasional or one-day helpers. Gloves, tools, and instructions are supplied.
During the high season of roses, June through September, the Brigade gathers every Tuesday from 5-7 pm. As the days grow shorter in October we meet earlier. Ad hoc projects occur in April, May, and December. There is a colorful flag to help everyone find where we are working.
Congratulations to our Rose Brigade volunteers and the Boston Parks and Recreation on wonderful blooms this year, and thank you for your efforts to enhance these spectacular sights for all to enjoy.
The Friends of the Public Garden will be hosting A Summer Party at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on July 23rd from 5:30-7:30pm. Join us to celebrate summer with festive hors d’oeuvres, drinks and friends while supporting the parks! Proceeds from the party will help the Friends preserve and enhance the Boston Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Avenue Mall.
Tickets $75, are available for purchase online or by calling 617-723-8144.