Celebrating Face Fragment

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On Thursday, October 12, 2017, the Monell Center officially rededicated Face Fragment, the sculpture that lives outside our main building on Market Street. It was an opportunity to celebrate the statue’s recent restoration (check out photos and more info here) and to share photos and tales about Face Fragment – from its creation through the many years it has served as Monell’s sentinel and symbol.

The original concept for the Monell Center’s building (which we moved to in 1971) did not include Face Fragment. Doesn’t the rendering look odd without the statue?

An artist’s rendering of the Monell Center building

Face Fragment wasn’t completed until 1975. Once finished, the sculpture, in all of its glory, was erected outside the Center.

Over the years, an unofficial tradition arose of photographing Monell scientists, staff, and visitors in front of Face Fragment.


And especially movie stars, including William Shatner and Bill Pullman.

You can see how, through the years, Face Fragment‘s patina became patchy and in need of restoration.

The 2017 restoration began with removing the deteriorated coating from the sculpture, followed by retouching and priming the face for the regilding process.

The gold leaf was applied in stages, from the bottom of the statue to the top.

Once the gilding was complete, the conservators next smoothed out the edges of the gold leaves.

In the bottom right of the photo you can see Arlene Love’s signature on the sculpture – we didn’t even know it was there!

Now, after the restoration, Face Fragment is smooth and shiny again!

The rededication ceremony brought together many Monell VIPs.

From left to right: Monell President Robert Margolskee; Restoration donors Christina Kind and Laura Kind McKenna; Face Fragment sculptor Arlene Love; and Monell Board member Maurizio Morello

From left to right: Monell Board Chair Dwight Riskey; Restoration donor Christina Kind; and Executive Director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority Gregory Heller

And now Face Fragment is ready for another 45 years of close-ups.

Do you have a great photo with Face Fragment? Send it our way! Email me at ngreenbaum@monell.org.