[If] you were to ascend on a lift to get a general’s-eye view, you might be alarmed, says fine art conservator Andrew Baxter, president of Bronze Et Al, Ltd. It’s been 20 years or more since serious conservation work was done on some of the monuments, he says, and the bronze is eroding. “If people would see that,” Baxter says, “they would realize how incredibly important the maintenance issues are.” [...]
But if the regular wash-and-wax is neglected, the statue’s finish deteriorates. The bronze oxidizes to a green patina, which, like rust, eats away at the metal and eventually causes pitting. At a certain point, the statue must be refinished by blasting it with glass beads or small fragments of walnut shell.
On the city-owned statues, “the maintenance just hasn’t been done,” Baxter says. Davis is in “dreadful” shape. Stuart’s “looking so poorly.” And Matthew Fontaine Maury has been patchy for years.