After years of conservation, Bacchus looks clean, restored, and pretty cool with his new arm and his head back on.MORE
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The Bacchus Conservation Project is a multidisciplinary and multiphase endeavor. Take a look at the slide show to see the exhibition history of the sculpture and view images of the preliminary phases of the systematic study of the classical marble sculptures. Visit often to see Bacchus transform before your eyes!
Statue of Bacchus displayed in front of a tapestry and near Copley’s painting of Sir William Pepperrell (1746–1816) and His Family. At the time the NCMA was located on Morgan Street in downtown Raleigh.
Here, the Statue of Bacchus is on its pedestal in the Kunstkamer, where it was on display from 2002 to 2013 (in both East and West buildings). Bacchus has never actually been displayed in the Classical Galleries. Ever.
Initial examination of the Statue of Bacchus conducted by Mark Abbe, associate professor of ancient art, University of Georgia, Athens; NCMA Curator of Ancient Art Caroline Rocheleau; and NCMA Conservator Noelle Ocon in 2013.
It takes a village to move the Statue of Bacchus from its pedestal in the West Building Kunstkamer.
Scott Pike, associate professor of environmental and earth sciences at Willamette University, Salem, Oregon, conducts a visual analysis of the marble used to sculpt the ancient torso.
NCMA photographer Karen Malinofski is documenting every inch, scratch, patch, and break on the Statue of Bacchus, assisted by NCMA audiovisual technician Luke Mehaffie.
Objects conservator Amy Jones and NCMA Curator of Ancient Art Caroline Rocheleau take a marble sample from the Head of Dionysos. Samples are taken by drilling out a core or powder from the artifact.
Objects conservator Amy Jones collects a powder sample of marble from a new hole drilled at the top of the statue (not the hole you see on the photo).
Setting up for gamma radiography of Bacchus's left upper arm. The team conducted this study in a room with concrete walls, located under West Building.
NCMA Curator of Ancient Art Caroline Rocheleau looks at the gamma radiograph of Bacchus's arm, pointing out the various metal elements visible.
Gamma radiograph of Bacchus’s left arm shows metal pins, C-clamps, and even a threaded screw holding the arm to the torso. The use of a threaded screw is indicative a more recent repair. This is confirmed by UV examination.
Left profile view of the Statue of Bacchus under UV light. Notice the dark purple on the upper arm; this is indicative of a more recent restoration. The fluorescent yellow appears where the ancient torso was joined with the limbs, tree trunk, or base in the late 16th or early 17th century.
A structured light moiré pattern is projected onto the Statue of Bacchus to capture 3-D data during the structured light scanning session.
Objects conservator Corey Smith Riley documents the location of the marble sample to be taken from the back of the proper right leg.
Objects conservator Corey Smith Riley and Curator of Ancient Art Caroline Rocheleau take a sample from Bacchus’s heel.
Conservation scientist Jennifer Mass from Scientific Analysis for Fine Art, LLC, places on a microscope slide a sample of the historic material from a leaf of the Head of Dionysos.
Microscope slides with various samples taken from the berries, leaves, and hair that once adorned the Head of Dionysos.
Conservation scientist Jennifer Mass from Scientific Analysis for Fine Art, LLC, takes a sample of the metal clamp in the arm join.
Threaded rod in Bacchus’s left hip (visible on the gamma radiograph but revealed when the marble patch was removed for sampling).
Adam Finnefrock of Scientific Analysis of Fine Art, LLC, collects a swab sample of the surface coating from Corey Smith Riley.
Structural engineer Andrew Terrell of Lysaght & Associates reviews stereolithography scan outputs with conservator Corey Smith Riley.
The red ball in the scan of the torso indicates its center of gravity.
Caroline Rocheleau and Corey Smith Riley discuss the results of the isotopic analysis of the marble samples with Professor Scott Pike of Willamette University. (Check out our Bacchus 2.0 blog post to find out more!)
This shiny rectangle is a minuscule crystal of pyrite (fool’s gold) seen on Bacchus’ right knee. We also found one on his left arm. Both limbs are made of Pentelic marble, which has high iron content. (Pyrite is an iron sulfide.) The iron causes orangish stains in the marble.
The package contained a bottle of agarose, a gelling agent made from a certain type of red seaweed. (It is one of the two principal components of agar, which can be used to make jellies, aspics, puddings, and custards.) We won’t cook with the agarose; it will be used to create a cleansing gel that might help get rid of surface grime on Bacchus.
Corey Smith Riley, objects conservator, used a mild enzymatic solution and a bunch of Staedtler erasers to clean the base of the statue. (The gel didn’t work well.) On the left of the green paper, the surface has been cleaned; on the right, it hasn’t.
A curator, a conservator, and an engineer walk into an artist’s studio. The NCMA’s Caroline Rocheleau and Corey Smith Riley, with Andy Terrell of Lysaght & Associates, discuss the needs of Bacchus with Hillsborough artist Larry Heyda of Lawrence Heyda Studios.
Indeed, he’s not your man. He’s OUR man!
When artist Larry Heyda was looking for a live model to create Bacchus’s missing arm, he suggested a basketball player. Bacchus is 6 ft. 8 in., and NSCU’s Wyatt Walker is 6 ft. 9 in. and of similar build.
A view of the scan of Wyatt Walker’s arm made by Heather at Pendragon 3D will help Larry of Lawrence Heyda Studios create Bacchus’s missing right arm. Thanks for lending an arm, Wyatt!
Artist Larry Heyda poses with a 3-D printed, miniature version of Bacchus and the new arm prototype. Heyda made extensive adjustments to the lower section of the arm where it meets the torso. This included cutting the arm at the critical place, so it would join the torso in such a way that the musculature of the torso would flow into that of the arm with anatomical accuracy.
Follow Corey Smith Riley, your host on this 360-degree tour of the conservation lab, and discover how conservators preserve works of art. Our friend Bacchus is featured in this wonderful learning tool. Use this link to access the 360 experience: https://learn.ncartmuseum.org/resources/360conservation/
Objects conservator Corey Riley removes grime from Bacchus’ wavy locks. No need to lather, rinse, and repeat—she’s using a laser to clean his hair.
Artist Larry Heyda brings a full-size arm prototype to test on Bacchus before proceeding with the creation of the limb that will be attached to the statue. It’s a light 3-D printed version from which he will work. (We’re so excited!)
We have been looking for an expert on composite sculptures for a long time. (It is an unusual specialty!) A colleague at the Getty Villa in Malibu introduced us to a curator at the Musei Capitolini in Rome who knew a guy … Bacchus and Professor Fernando Loffredo are now getting acquainted.
Bacchus has great hair that includes additional wavy locks and a mullet. (A bit like marble hair extensions!) We must admit, we’re rather fond of the mullet, and we can’t wait to see it attached to the head once again. Curator of Ancient Art Caroline Rocheleau poses with the fragment and the photo that shows where it goes on the sculpture.
Objects conservator Corey Riley chats with structural engineer Andy Terrell about the attachment of the hair mullet to the torso. A Staedtler eraser helps in figuring out the angle of the pin.
Pressure pushing down on me, pressing down on you … Berries and leaves are being reattached to Bacchus’s head and held in place with weights and pressure clamps. (Yes, we’re channeling Queen and Bowie.)
Our dear statue is getting the full spa treatment! The agarose (in that package that was sent to Bacchus) was used to create a gel to clean the leaves a bit more (a bit like a facial peel).
Exhibition designer Molly Trask-Price has pulled together some paint swatches for the Bacchus exhibition. The color palette seems to indicate that Bacchus is best paired with a red wine …
Artist Larry Heyda 3-D printed the head of Bacchus, so we didn’t have to use the original when trying to figure out the order of fragments to be reattached to the torso. Pins and holes don’t align well, and multiple pins are needed to attach various things together.
Caroline Rocheleau, curator of ancient art, took the 3-D printed head to the mailroom to weigh it. The head weighs 5 pounds, a tenth the weight of the original marble head.
Conservator Corey Riley and Symone Cole, HBCU curatorial intern, work on figuring out the tricky order of things. We’re using the “test dummy” head that was 3-D printed for us.
We’re looking into pins of different materials and diameters to use in the replacement of the head onto the torso. (Fiberglass seems to be the way to go.)
Conservator Corey Riley and structural engineer Andy Terrell talk about Bacchus’s right knee. A lot of numbers were crunched to ensure that Bacchus can be moved safely and that the extra weight we’ll add to him won’t affect the joint.
Structural engineer Andy Terrell needed to know the hardness of the B72 and fumed alumina fill that Corey used to fill in the joins that had been exposed. So, we got a Mohs Hardness Test kit: the #2 stylus did not scratch, but the #3 stylus did.
Conservator Corey Riley is consolidating the older plaster fill in the right knee joint. Using a blunt-end syringe and 10% B72 in acetone, she is feeding the dilute adhesive into the plaster before filling the thin crack with bulked B72.
We’ll be using the existing holes in the statue to attach the arm. We can insert an L- or C-clamp in the rectangular cavity and screw it to the new arm, which will have a pin to fit in the circular cavity. This will create a strong mechanical join that should need less adhesive.
Conservator Noelle Ocon is inpainting Bacchus, making distracting areas blend in a bit more. We don’t want to hide Bacchus’s flaws, but we want to make him look a little more uniform from a distance.
Artist Larry Heyda designed the new arm to weigh less than 10 pounds. It has a metal rod and an inner core of lightweight urethane rigid foam, and the “skin” is made from a polyurethane resin. This image shows Heyda pouring the resin into the mold.
Art handlers Tom Lopez (left), Ben Bridgers (right), and Andy Gabryziak (back) designed a sling to help support Bacchus’s head during the restoration. They practiced with the head and a 3-D printed neck join to work out the kinks and make sure all would go well on the big day.
Marble tiles were needed for the exhibition’s marble touch station, but they weren’t all the same size. Curator of Ancient Art Caroline Rocheleau and Manager of Interpretation Felicia Knise Ingram learned how to cut marble tiles under the supervision of Chris Tacker, research curator of geology at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. (They had fun!)
Objects Conservator Corey Riley and the NCMA art handlers carefully put Bacchus’s head on his body. The sling, suspended from a gantry, allowed for the head to remain supported in proper alignment while the adhesive solvents evaporated.
We love Bacchus’s stylish mullet! However, it does not fit tightly against the body or neck, so Objects Conservator Corey Riley created epoxy putty fragments to fill the gaps. She stuck the mullet and the putty fragments onto the back of the neck using 3:1 Paraloid B72/B48N.
Larry Heyda sent us a photo of the arm, which was to be painted later when attached to the torso. You can read about Heyda’s artistic process in the forthcoming publication Bacchus Conservation Project: The Story of a Sculpture.
Bacchus’s head remained in the sling for 2½ months! It was time to free the god of wine from this contraption. The straps slowly came off and Bacchus’s lovely face looked at us from the height of his shoulders.
For the first time in more than 30 years, Bacchus had a head on his shoulders. It was a moment to commemorate! (Even if he was having a bad hair day.) NMCA Videographer Luke Mehaffie was the guy for the task.
Bacchus needed a little color to camouflage the join between the back of his head and his luxurious mullet. Objects Conservator Corey Riley happily obliged.
A simple white ribbon and a pressure clamp were all that were needed to hold Bacchus’s wavy locks onto his head while the adhesives cured. This could not be done while the head was in the sling because the straps were in the way.
The joins between the hair fragments were rather thick and visible, so Bacchus needed another color treatment to hide his white hair. His glorious mane now looks quite dashing.
Bacchus regained his 1950s appearance; he looked the way he did when he entered the NCMA collection. The next step was to give him his new right arm. Bacchus was ready for a fitting, so we called artist Larry Heyda…
A few tweaks were made to the dowel in the lower part of the new arm to ensure a smooth and perfect fit with the torso. A quick trip to the wood workshop to sand a few bumps took care of things.
The arm is attached to the torso with a mechanical join that uses the existing pinhole and cavity in the arm. A big stainless-steel staple is hidden by a cap attached to it with a screw.
Artist Larry Heyda poses proudly next to Bacchus fitted with his new arm. (Bacchus dressed up for the occasion in a long plastic kilt.)
Artist Larry Heyda paints the polyurethane skin of the new arm with watercolors. The goal is to match the color of the arm (at the join) seamlessly with that of the torso. However, the arm does not have the same shine the torso does. This was a curatorial and conservation decision.
Just a cool photo of Bacchus’s ankles as we’re nearing the end of the conservation treatment. It’s been a long and winding road to get the statue back into shape.
A special treat for our sponsors and donors: viewing the final restoration of the arm. We could not have made it without you. Thank you!
Bacchus’s new arm is finally attached! While there are no adhesives between the arm and the shoulder, the gap is nonetheless filled. The fill is recessed to make this join obvious, but it needs to be painted.
The join needs to be obvious… just not THAT obvious. Objects Conservator Corey Riley paints the fill between the arm and the torso (and around the cap at the back of the shoulder).
Objects Conservator Corey Smith Riley and Curator of Ancient Art Caroline Rocheleau admire Bacchus and breathe a sigh of relief. The conservation treatment is completed: Bacchus is whole and once again immediately recognizable as the Roman god of wine.
The conservation treatment is finished, but the project is not! Now moving with ease thanks to a new permanent pallet made specifically for his structural integrity needs, Bacchus takes a ride in the freight elevator to get to his exhibition space.
Bacchus is readied for his moment of glory. The statue is positioned in the exhibition space, tucked between two sections of a large platform that will surround him.
Head Preparator Rand Esser works on the large platform around Bacchus. (It looks like Bacchus is standing on it, doesn’t it?) The statue is also wrapped in Tyvek because the platform will be painted.
Some of the graphics in the exhibition are vinyl, like the title wall, the map, quotations, and introduction. The scrolls will be unfurled and adhered to the walls, and the room will be transformed.
Ryan Pound of RAD Graphics installs the cut vinyl title wall designed by Christin Hardy, senior graphic designer.
We love large maps! This one is going to show the location of the quarries from which the different marbles identified in Bacchus was extracted. We’ll also indicate the countries where the other statues with torsos like that of Bacchus are located.
Exhibition Designer Molly Trask-Price (in gray) speaks with Senior Graphic Designer Christin Hardy (in cream) and Curator of Ancient Art Caroline Rocheleau (in purple). It really takes a village to install an exhibition, even if there is only one work of art in it!
Materials rest on worktables and against the wall until they are installed. The vitrines will be cleaned after there are secured to their bases.
Digital Experience Strategist Kevin Kane is setting up the videos in the exhibition. There are three that feature consulting experts discussing cool topics like structural analysis and marble source identification, and a fourth showing the transformation of Bacchus.
The interactive being installed in this photo is affectionately called the “god slider” by the exhibition and interpretation team. Visitors can create Roman gods by sliding different attributes into place (clues that help identify these gods). Even grown-ups have fun with this!
Graphics on panels are going up on the wall. Environmental Graphics Designer Sean Thomas is given a helping hand by Molly Trask-Price, exhibition designer. They are installing the “What Is Conservation?” panel.
Another interactive in the exhibition allows visitors to look at marble the way a geologist does. What color is it? Do you see inclusions or veins? How big are the crystals?
Lighting Designer Ollie Wagner shines a light on Bacchus. Sculptures look better in direct lighting because shadows create contrast and give them more dimensionality and presence.
The digital interactive that Digital Experience Strategist Kevin Kane and Manager of Interpretation Felicia Knise Ingram are installing allows people to spin Bacchus around and view him from many angles. It’s filled with fun facts, pictures, and videos so you can learn about Bacchus and composite sculptures, marble fragments, and the conservation treatment.
The Bacchus Conservation Project: The Story of a Sculpture is on view in East Building through January 31, 2021.
A few visitors stood by the stanchions watching the team put the finishing touches on the exhibition. They were invited to come back a little bit later to be the first visitors to see Bacchus. They did.
A visitor having fun with the big guy. He’s got moves like Bacchus!
The prototype arm has received much approval. We’re not sure if it’s Larry Heyda’s skills or Wyatt Walker’s muscles that are attracting the ladies’ attention. *Grin*
What a precious moment! A child stares adoringly at Bacchus.
Boys playing at making their own Roman god.
Objects Conservator Corey Riley chats with artist Peter Oakley about marble in this educational program held in the Bacchus exhibition. Led by Camille Tewell, manager of digital learning, the program explored marble from scientific and artistic perspectives.
All exhibitions are photographed by NCMA photographers. Chris Ciccone has set up his camera to take pictures of the Bacchus exhibition. He was photographed by Curator of Ancient Art Caroline Rocheleau (who took most of the photos featured in the slide show.)
After his makeover, Bacchus set out to find love. This crazy fun idea is that of Public Relations Manager Kat Harding. She says it’s our most viewed story on Instagram!
If you were wondering what Bacchus has been doing during this pandemic … well, now you know. He entered a #BestMuseumBum contest a little while ago.
The NCMA communications team is happy to work with members of the press to coordinate interviews, schedule photo shoots, and provide images. Email or call Kat Harding, public relations manager, at (919) 664-6795.
Softcover, full color
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