The Brooklyn Museum welcomes a new member to its refuge for architectural orphans.
Thu Jun 1 2006
Although no one would confuse the parking lot behind the Brooklyn Museum for New York Harbor, it does contain a Statue of Liberty: a 40-foot-tall sheet-metal replica, actually, that once stood atop the Liberty Warehouse on 64th St. and Broadway. The recipient of a Memorial Day makeover—including cleaning and a new galvanized-steel pedestal—“Little Liberty” is just the latest addition to the Steinberg Family Sculpture Garden, a leafy sanctuary for architectural ornaments rescued from New York buildings long since demolished or remodeled. The impetus for the garden was the runaway development that plagued the city in the 1960s. “All this wonderful architecture was coming down with no thought to preservation,” says curator Kevin Stayton. “The demolition of the first Penn Station was devastating. But it brought people to their senses.” Night, a Beaux Arts relief of a winged female figure salvaged from that wreckage, was one of the first items brought to this island of lost souls, which also includes a massive zinc lion that once guarded Coney Island’s Steeplechase Park. “They’re a reflection of a time when craftsmanship was treasured,” says head conservationist Lisa Bruno. “These pieces were handmade by immigrants who were literally helping to build this country.”—Dan Avery
On Saturday 3, Bruno will discuss the Little Liberty renovations as part of the Brooklyn Museum’s First Saturdays celebration. For info, go to brooklynmuseum.org.