Chicago’s parks are home to nearly 300 sculptures, fountains and monuments, and like many city dwellers, Seamus McMahon passes by some of these nearly every day. It makes him wonder how the city’s historic works have withstood the test of time and maintained their condition.
So, he asked Curious City:
How are Chicago’s statues and monuments maintained and restored?
It turns out this is a job done by one Chicago family. Poland-native Andrzej Dajnowski and his son Bartosz run the Conservation of Sculpture and Objects Studio, Inc. in Forest Park. And from that studio, they’ve developed a laser tool that has not only helped them do their job better, but has also revolutionized the field of conservation.
Their unassuming warehouse is filled with monuments from Chicago and around the world. Curious City took a visit to see how their conservation work is done — and to check out those lasers.
More about our questioner
Seamus McMahon has always been fascinated by Chicago history and architecture. Since he was a kid, he’s collected model buildings from places he has traveled to.
“I’ve always been the kid that picks up the massive history book,” he says.
When he first posed his question to Curious City, he says he was expecting a scene out of the movie National Treasure: a dark, mysterious space filled with precious artifacts that were, in this case, waiting to be restored. For him, the Dajnowski’s studio came close.
“It was so surreal to walk into this seemingly unnoticeable warehouse and have the doors open and boom: there’s all these statues,” he says.
Seamus is an actor and works as an office manager as a day job, but he says one of his dream gigs would be to give historical tours. That would give him the chance to tell the untold stories behind a particular building, statue or public space.
“I really enjoy seeing how the city has changed and how it’s grown, but also how things have stayed the same — that my grandparents have seen something and I’m also seeing it,” he says.
Katherine Nagasawa is the multimedia producer for Curious City. You can follow her at @kat_nagasawa.
Mackenzie Crosson is the intern for Curious City. You can get in touch with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.