OBJECTS > Monuments



From the 36” tall marble obelisk, the Confederate Monument, marking the mass burial of 640 Confederate soldiers in Little Rock National Cemetery, Arkansas, to the 55’ tall limestone and polished granite edifice, the Gordon Monument dedicated to a single politician and railroad industrialist in Savannah, Georgia, monuments poignantly embody our nation’s history. These two monuments exemplify how tremendously monuments can physically vary, from a simple marker to a grand architectural structure.

The development of the monument parallels the development of the historic outdoor sculpture. Colonial American monuments began primarily in local burying grounds. More elaborate cemetery monuments and community public monuments proliferated from The Rural Cemetery Movement, beginning with Mount Auburn in 1831 and the conclusion of the Civil War with the erection of numerous monuments on local town greens and in city centers. The development of urban parks, such as Central Park in 1857, and the City Beautiful Movement that began at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893 promoted monuments to recognized leaders in the arts and sciences, as well as distinguished military veterans. War monuments continued after subsequent military events including the Spanish American War, WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War and the Iraq wars. The tragedy of 9/11 has also lead to national memorials honoring the bravery of police, fireman and heroic civilians.

Stone typically constitutes the primary material of a historic monument, with the traditional addition of bronze sculpture, plaques and ornimentation. Zinc, or “white bronze”, monuments were also common from the 1870’s through the 1910’s. Successful conservation requires appropriate research, materials analysis, planning, material selection, treatment implementation and ongoing maintenance, for all sculptural and architectural features. Given the varieties of materials, range of conditions and structural issues, and differing display settings, preservation efforts continually evolve to mitigate the problems at hand while emphasizing long term stability and future re-treatability.

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