From the New York Public Library:
The New York Public Library’s iconic lions Patience and Fortitude are back and better than ever after receiving some much-needed TLC over the last two months.
The lions, international symbols of open access to knowledge and information who have guarded the 42nd Street Library since its opening in 1911, have been out of public view for the last nine weeks, surrounded by scaffolding as they were carefully cleaned, repaired, and conserved. The $270,000 project—concluding today with the removal of all scaffolding—was paid for with a generous grant from The New York Life Foundation and donations from hundreds of New Yorkers.
“The lions have enjoyed the full spa treatment and are now back out on Fifth Avenue, stoically delighting and welcoming visitors to our 42nd Street Library,” said New York Public Library President Anthony W. Marx. “For over a century Patience and Fortitude have sat outside the Library, calmly assuring New Yorkers, scholars and visitors that truth and knowledge will always prevail, even in the darkest times. It is our responsibility to be great stewards of our beloved, noble lions and ensure that they are in the best possible condition to inspire the public now and for generations to come. Thanks to this project, they are back to being the true kings of this city.”
“Patience and Fortitude, the New York Public Library’s famed marble lions, have become iconic symbols that represent the bravery required to get through challenging times and the gateway to information and education, which has helped build brighter futures for millions of people from around the world,” said President of the New York Life Foundation Heather Nesle. “We see our support as more than simply a restoration but rather a celebration of our nearly 80-year partnership and all that the library represents to visitors near and far.”
Patience and Fortitude—carved in the Bronx studios of the Piccirilli Brothers and named by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia during the Depression because he believed New Yorkers needed “patience and fortitude” to survive the tough times—require conservation approximately every seven to 10 years. As they are made with porous Tennessee pink marble, snow, rain, wind, traffic exhaust, and other elements take their toll over time.
The lions were last conserved in 2011; before that 2004.
Following an assessment by WJE Engineers and Architects, it was determined that the 108-year-old lions needed a laser cleaning and repairs to several minor cracks and chips. That work—done by Integrated Conservation Contracting—included filling the cracks with grout or reinforcing any previous repairs.
The lions are now ready to welcome guests to the Library’s annual Library Lions fundraising gala on Monday, November 4, and will begin wearing their annual holiday season wreaths later this month. The wreaths were made special for Patience and Fortitude; they include no metal and do not retain water to protect the marble.