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Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s Statue of Peter Stuyvesant Gets a Bath

Who takes care of New York City’s public monuments? Who ensures that the sculptures in our parks and our public art remain pristine?

New York City’s Department of Art and Antiquities within New York City Parks is responsible for the upkeep of the city’s more than 800 public monuments and numerous temporary exhibitions. Pictured above and to the right is Theo Boggs, a monuments conservation technician, who gave our own Peter Stuyvesant a bath. Theo and his peers also raked out and repointed the stone masonry joints of the platform surrounding the sculpture, and renewed the protective wax coating for both the Peter Stuyvesant and Antonin Dvorak statues.

Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, sculptor of the Peter Stuyvesant statue, was one of only a handful of female sculptors in early 20th-century New York City. She devoted herself to the advancement of women in art, supporting and exhibiting in women-only shows and ensuring that women were included in mixed shows. She is perhaps most well known for founding the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1931, after The Metropolitan Museum of Art refused her donation of 700 modern works of American art because it believed that both America and the modern world had little to offer artistically. A trailblazer, she believed the creative and artistic output the American people, both men and women, were worthy of being exhibited and celebrated.

Today, roughly 80 years after Peter Stuyvesant’s placement in the park, sculptures like those created by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney continue to receive the love and care they need. We are grateful to the Department of Art and Antiquities for their diligence in caring for some of the oldest residents of our park.