BOULDER CITY, NV—In early February, restoration and reconstruction work began at Hoover Dam as part of a 2022 contract with the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to repair and preserve Oskar J. W. Hansen’s famous 1930s sculptures near the Hoover Dam visitor center.
Hansen’s massive pair of bronze statues, the “Winged Figures of the Republic,” their diorite base and flagpole, and the terrazzo “Star Map” at their feet will all undergo significant restoration work as part of the BOR contract. The 2022 restoration project is the second restoration of these pieces since their dedication in the 1930s, following a 1958 effort that failed to fully repair unnatural deterioration caused by drainage design flaws from the original construction.
Hansen’s original Star Map designs required thousands of astronomical calculations to properly align the planets and constellations that pinpoint the moment of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s dedication of Hoover Dam in 1935 as part of a 26,000-year astronomical “clock,” allowing visitors to the monument thousands of years from now to calculate that moment. The intricate detail of the Star Map and it’s small inlays makes for a significant reconstruction challenge for the construction team. During the 1958 repairs, some details of the terrazzo star map were inadvertently moved from their original calculated positions and will now be restored to their original 1930s locations.
“The amount of detail that Oskar Hansen put into his original Star Map is remarkable,” said project manager Wayne Wilson of Corporate Project Management, Inc, the federal contractor in charge of the reconstruction, “We are grateful that the BOR entrusted us with this important restoration work and will do our best to repair this artwork with the same attention to detail and precision as when Oskar originally designed it.”
“Oskar Hansen’s Hoover Dam Winged Figures statues and the terrazzo Star Map are some of the most-visited sculptures in the country and definitely his most significant pieces of work. It’s so important that Oskar’s artwork stay preserved for future generations and I’m excited to support Wayne and his team at CPM so that these important sculptures can be treasured for another hundred years,” said Aaron Street of the Oskar J. W. Hansen Archives.
The Hoover Dam restoration project is scheduled into late 2022 and will involve a team of subject matter experts from across the United States including scientists, metallurgists, and brass and terrazzo sculpture experts. Parts of the Hoover Dam Monument Plaza will be closed to visitors during the reconstruction.
Corporate Project Management, Inc. is a California-based general contractor and project management firm specializing in complex public and historic-preservation projects.
The Oskar J. W. Hansen Archives works to collect documents and artwork of the famed sculptor and to raise awareness of his life and work, including assisting CPM in Hansen-related research as part of the Hoover Dam project.
Keywords: Hoover Dam, Las Vegas, Restoration, Sculpture
Posted: March 8, 2022
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