Carolyn Riccardelli gave a Brown Bag Lunch presentation on Thursday, February 1. Her talk was entitled “After the Fall: The Treatment of Tullio Lombardo’s Adam.”

In October of 2002, the Renaissance sculpture Adam by Tullio Lombardo fell to the floor in the Metropolitan Museum of Art when the pedestal beneath it collapsed. The impact of the fall caused the marble sculpture to break into 28 large pieces and hundreds of small fragments. Dated 1490–95, Adam is considered the most important monumental Renaissance sculpture in North America, and, prior to the accident, was in nearly pristine condition. In the wake of the initial shock and distress over this accident, the Museum made a commitment to undertake a conservation project that would, to the fullest extent possible, return the statue to its original appearance.

A team of conservators, conservation scientists, materials scientists, and engineers was brought together to determine the most effective, reversible, and least invasive treatment for the large marble sculpture. Finite element analysis, fracture toughness studies of adhesives, and in-depth pinning studies provided insight towards developing a treatment approach that prioritized minimal intervention and reversibility. The results determined that a blend of acrylic resins provided a reversible, structural adhesive, and that modestly-sized fiberglass pins were sufficient to stabilize the three most critical fractures. This research, coupled with an innovative external armature for securing fragments during treatment, allowed Adam to be returned to public view in 2014.

Carolyn Riccardelli is a conservator in the Department of Objects Conservation at The Metropolitan Museum of Art where she is responsible for structural issues related to large-scale objects. From 2005–2014 her primary project was Tullio Lombardo’s Adam for which she was the principal member of a team of conservators and scientists conducting research on adhesives and pinning materials, as well as developing innovative methods for reassembling the damaged sculpture. Committed to the educational development of conservators-in-training, Riccardelli is one of the coordinators of an active graduate internship program in Objects Conservation at The Met. She is a frequent lecturer at the NYU Conservation Center, WUDPAC, and Buffalo, speaking about adhesives and pinning techniques for marble, and ceramics conservation. She has worked in Turkey at the Archaeological Expedition at Sardis (Harvard/Cornell), and more recently at the Met’s Egyptian excavations at Dahshur and Lisht. She is a Fellow of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC), and has served on the AIC Board of Directors, the AIC Publications Committee, and as an officer in the Objects Specialty Group. She holds a BA in anthropology from Newcomb College, Tulane University and an MA from the Art Conservation Program at Buffalo State College.

This event is part of our Cultures of Conservation initiative, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.