Losing games: Conservation issues associated with bronze sculpture used as outdoor playground equipment

Mark Rabinowitz and Providencia Vel√°zguez

Abstract

Several bronze sculptures in Central Park in New York City must exist within the dual and seemingly contradictory uses of playground equipment and works of art. Along with the usual problems of corrosion, vandalism and disfigurement associated with the decay of outdoor bronzes these works are subject to an additional and severe set of attacks through normal playground wear. The purpose of this paper is to identify those problems and address the conservation issues that they present. We will explore what about the nature and conditions of these sculptures dictates their use as playgrounds. Adjustments in their circumstances, high levels of maintenance and planned reconstructions or replacements may all be required in the conservation for these existing sculptures. Specification guidelines for future projects which avoid problematic installations will also be discussed.