The Robert Anderson Memorial Fountain was cast in 1905 and installed in Anderson by 1906. For more than 100 years its cast iron figures have braved the elements along with some zinc components. Iron has many natural enemies, and throughout its life the fountain has needed treatment to combat rust, weather, and time. Conservation is needed yet again in the life of this historic fountain and the following plan will help to ensure a bright future for this staple of the Anderson County Museum.
It is normal and expected for iron to oxidize in the face of moisture and oxygen. The best way to protect it from that process is to create a barrier between the metal and the environment: a coating. Every step in this plan is centered on protecting the fountain with a secure and even coating to deter rust and weathering.
Step One: Disassembly
The only possible way to access and treat all parts of the fountain is to disassemble it. This way, both the exterior and interior surface can receive treatment. It will also allow the inner workings of the fountain to be assessed and replaced as needed, including the piping that delivers water to the top of the fountain.
Step Two: Cleaning
Existing rust must be removed and the surface prepared. Any coating put on the fountain would be rendered useless if it were applied to an unclean or rusty surface. Careful cleaning techniques allow conservationists to remove the rust layer and then dry each component to remove any remaining moisture.
Step Three: Stabilization
After surface rust is removed, it is important to ensure it cannot return between the metal and the coating. Converter solutions stabilize the surface metal and provide a fresh, hard surface on which to apply the coating.
Step Four: Coating
A series of coats of primer, paint, and sealants will bring the fountain back to its familiar glossy black. This surface will be inspected regularly for cracks or chips to make sure that the weather never has access to the underlying metal.
Step Five: Reassembly
The fountain will be reinstalled in its concrete basin where it can be enjoyed by Andersonians for years to come. New hardware will replace any rusty or worn bolts, leaving the fountain structurally sound and totally rejuvenated.
All of the museum’s collection pieces require care and conservation. The Robert Anderson Memorial Fountain represents a scaled-up version of the plans we prescribe to our other artifacts, and it needs the skills and expertise of outdoor metal conservators. Follow along this journey with us, as we post updates on the fountain’s treatment, photos, and historic information to keep you plugged in to the process.