Statuary conservator to do KC’s famed fountain

2014082195171911 (1)The man who will work on statuary from Kansas City’s most photographed fountain has plenty of experience with statues here and elsewhere.

Jonathan Taggart has done conservation work all over the nation and now lives in Georgetown, Maine.

He alone will do the conservation work on the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain statues, which have been nested in an undisclosed warehouse since last week.

The fountain’s concrete bases and cracked basin also will be repaired and its pumps and motors replaced, but Taggart does not do that.

He is a conservation specialist and has been working on statues in the Kansas City area for almost three decades, he said Thursday.

When the fountain reopens, he said, “It will be looking better than it did by a long shot.”

It has been nine years since a cleaning and hot wax job was last done on the Nichols fountain, he said, which is a long time as such things go.

JCN-4thDolphin (1)Heat melts wax, water washes it off and decaying leaf residue in water stains statues. They probably should be cleaned and waxed every three years or so but people wait longer because of the expense, he said.

He will clean them and apply his special hot wax with solvents in it. You could put on a synthetic or plastic coating that would last maybe three times as long, but that is a problem because it is hard to remove, Taggart said.

The special wax can’t be too hard because “as a statue expands and contracts it will just pop it off,” he said, so you balance soft and hard:

“It’s a compromise as are so many things in life.”

Taggart, who went to Southwest High School, is the son of Ross Taggart, who was a senior curator at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

He is very different from his father, who wanted to display art to as many people as possible, he said. “I always want to put them in a perfect black box and make them last forever.”

One Comment

  1. peggy trinidad says:

    Thank you so much for restoring our beautiful fountain, J.C Nichols, I was there last year as it was going in. I spoke to your brother, Ross. He and I were so excited as it was going in, I cheered with him and we even gave each other a high 5! He asked if I was with any media and I said no just someone who’s lived here all my life and loves our fountains. My mother just turned 100 in March this year. I showed her pictures I took and she loved looking at them. Thanks Again! Peggy Trinidad

Leave a Comment