Restore the King

Delaware's Gambrinus Statue

Statue Restoration

By on June 1, 2016

In July 2014, the Friends of Delaware’s King Gambrinus Statue (FDGS) came into possession of the 60 plus original pieces of the sculpture. Unfortunately, several pieces of the statue were destroyed beyond repair or are otherwise missing, a result of the statue being dropped in 1978.

Condition of the statue, July 2014

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 pieces and confirmed that complete restoration of the sculpture was possible. Subsequently, two nationally recognized conservation firms provided preliminary estimates of $60,000-$100,000 for restoration. The final cost could be higher, depending on the amount of casting work needed and other factors.

FDGS developed a phasing plan to tackle the publicly funded Restore the King project.

During Phase 1 in 2018, a volunteer museum professional cataloged and provided a condition assessment for each of the statue’s remaining pieces.

Cataloging sample, 2018

Phase 2 of the project involved laser scanning of an existing Fiske-designed Gambrinus statue and creation of a complete 3D model (Model #1). Direct Dimensions completed this phase in 2020.

Model #1 – front & back

In 2022, FDGS partnered with the Winterthur/University of Delaware Art Program in Art Conservation to complete for the project’s next phase. Phase 3 work entailed 3D laser scanning the sculpture’s existing pieces and developing a partial 3D model (Model #2) containing those pieces.

Model #2 of existing pieces

FDGS plans to embark on Phase 4 in 2023. A comparative analysis between Models #1 and #2 will identify the missing sculpture parts to be recreated as part of the next phase.

Restoration work begins during Phase 5 with the missing pieces will be recast created from zinc. The new and existing pieces will be placed over top a newly created metal skeletal framework and fused together.

In Phase 6, the completed sculpture will be painted to match the colors of the original Delaware statue.

Finally, during Phase 7, a sturdy and aesthetically appropriate base will be created at the museum destination to support the one-ton sculpture. Finally, the King Gambrinus 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: