Tullio Lombardo’s Adam Back on Display After a 12-Year Restoration

Tullio Lombardo, Adam (1480-95)Photo: Metropolitan Museum via Galleria Roma
Tullio Lombardo, Adam (1480-95)
Photo: Metropolitan Museum via Galleria Roma

Tullio Lombardo’s Adam sculpture will return to public view tomorrow, Art Daily reports. The marble sculpture has spent the last 12 years with the conservation team at the Metropolitan Museum of Art  in New York, where it ended up in 2002 after its wooden pedestal collapsed and the marble statue smashed against the floor, shattering into hundreds of pieces.

“The head had come off,” Jack Soultanian, the conservator that has led the restoration project, told the New York Times. “There were 28 recognizable pieces and hundreds of smaller fragments.”

Philippe de Montebello, the Met’s director at the time, confessed that the accident was “about the worst thing that could happen” to a museum.

The Met vowed to return the 500-year-old statue to its original appearance to the fullest extent possible. It has taken more than a decade of painstaking restoration—using pioneering techniques and equipment—to fulfill that promise. In fact, the project took so long that rumors that the statue was beyond repair started to circulate.

The sculpture and its extraordinary restoration will be the focus of “Tullio Lombardo’s “Adam: A Masterpiece Restored,” the inaugural display at the Met’s new Venetian Sculpture gallery. Alongside Adam, videos documenting how Soultanian and his team put the sculpture back together will be shown.

Tullio carved Adam in the early 1490s to adorn the tomb of the Doge of Venice, Andrea Vendramin. It is the only signed sculpture from the historical monument. The statue has been part of the Met’s permanent collection since 1936, and it is the most important Italian Renaissance sculpture in North America, according to Art Daily.

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