Restore the King

Delaware's Gambrinus Statue

Statue Restoration

By on June 1, 2016

The Delaware Gambrinus statue is only one of five sculptures known to exist that were cast in zinc from the same J.W. Fiske mold. Four are currently on display in Baltimore, MD; Breinigsville, PA; Syracuse, NY; and Toluca, Mexico. At present, more than 60 pieces of the fractured Delaware statue are in storage awaiting restoration.

Maryland Historical Society's Gambrinus statue, Baltimore

Maryland Historical Society Museum (Baltimore, MD)

In 2014, Dr. Carol Grissom, Senior Objects Conservator at the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute and author of Zinc Sculpture in America, 1850-1950, evaluated the Delaware statue’s pieces and confirmed that restoration was possible. Two nationally recognized conservation firms provided preliminary estimates of between $60,000 and $100,000 to complete restoration. The final cost could be higher, depending on the amount of replication work needed and other unforeseen factors.

During the initial phase of the Restore the King project in 2018, a volunteer museum professional cataloged and provided a condition assessment for each of the statue’s pieces.

Onondaga Historical Society's Gambrinus statue, Syracuse

Onondaga Historical Association Museum (Syracuse, NY)

Phase II of the project involved laser scanning of an existing Fiske-designed Gambrinus statue and creation of a complete 3D model. Direct Dimensions completed this phase in 2020.

Portions of the original sculpture were destroyed beyond repair or are otherwise missing. Currently underway, Phase III involves scanning the remaining pieces of the Delaware sculpture and performing comparative analysis against the existing complete 3D model to help identify the missing parts. Friends of Gambrinus is partnering with the Winterthur/University of Delaware Art Conservation program for this phase of work.

Samuel Adams Brewery (Breinigsville, PA)

In the project’s next phase, paint analysis will be conducted on residual paint fragments from the sculpture’s pieces to determine the original color palate.

Phase V will involve replication of the missing pieces from zinc. The new and existing pieces will be fitted over top a metal skeletal framework and fused together.

Modelo Museum of Science & Industry's Gambrinus statue (Toluca, Mexico)

Modelo Museum of Science & Industry (Toluca, MEX)

In Phase VI, the completed sculpture will be painted to match the colors of the original Delaware statue.

Finally, a sturdy and aesthetically appropriate base will be created at the museum destination to support the one-ton sculpture. The statue will be delivered and installed for public presentation and long-term conservation. An interactive, interpretive history display will accompany the statue.

Rendering of Delaware sculpture museum installation (artist: Abigail Peraria)

Thank you to the following project partners and volunteers:

  • Winterthur Museum
  • University of Delaware Department of Art Conservation
  • Direct Dimensions Inc.
  • Abigail Peraria, Graphic Designer
  • Emily Carnwath, Collections Specialist
  • Dr. Carol A. Grissom, Senior Objects Conservator, Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute
  • Delaware Historical Society