Thanks to the Friends Sculpture Care Program, master stone conservator Ivan Myjer was recently on Boston Common to perform general maintenance on the Shaw Memorial. Ongoing regular upkeep involved repointing of the granite walls, marble balustrade and base. Several areas that experienced a loss of stone were rebuilt and stains on the stone caused by the environment were cleaned. Myjer also applied sealant around the base of the bronze relief to protect it from moisture getting behind the bronze and causing damage. While the Friends has overseen regular maintenance on the monument, it was observed that over time, water has seeped into cracks between the stones causing displacement in several places. A comprehensive assessment was done on this treasured piece of art and recommendations were made for restoration work.
The Shaw/54th Regiment Memorial by renowned sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens is the most acclaimed piece of public sculpture in Boston, and one of the most significant pieces of sculpture in the country. Saint-Gaudens was the foremost American sculptor of his day. After accepting the Shaw Memorial commission in 1884, he took almost fourteen years to complete the job. The enormous bas-relief depicts the mounted Colonel Robert Gould Shaw leading the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, the first all-volunteer black regiment in the Union army. Colonel Shaw, together with many of his men, died at Fort Wagner, South Carolina, in July 1863. Names of all 54th Regiment soldiers are listed on the Boston Common side of the monument.