As a website and resource for industrial designers, we're always curious to learn about new materials and methods that may be of interest to our audience; it so happens that a lot of those same techniques can be applied to art conservation as well.
Sculpted by Tullio Lombardo in 1490–5 as a canonical classical nude, a life-size sculpture of Adam spent the subsequent four and a half centuries in Venice before it was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1936. Immortalized in marble, the biblical progenitor stoically occupied the Velez Blanco Patio for decades before a tragic turn of events following a 2000 renovation of the space, when its pedestal was replaced. Just two years later, the 770-pound, 6’3” Adam shattered upon falling from his four-foot-high, medium-density plywood pedestal—reportedly constructed in layers but hollow—when it gave way on the evening of October 6, 2002.
The allegorical irony of Adam's precipitous descent is duly noted, though the proverbial rib was not among the 28 large fragments as the torso remained largely intact. The damage, of course, was done, and after nearly twelve years, the conservation team at the Met has successfully restored the masterpiece and (better yet) documented the entire process:
Along with the semi-technical walkthrough above, the Met has also posted a time-lapse of the reconstruction itself (a third video shows a 3D animation of the parts coming together):
The restoration was also reportedly documented in the Metropolitan Museum Journal (Volume 49, December 2013), but alas, I can't seem to find the article online. In any case, we're pleased to report that Lombardo's "Adam" has returned to the public eye as of this week.