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Noah's Ark - Conservation of Mosaic Sculptures at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo

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Noah's Ark - Conservation of Mosaic Sculptures at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo

For the past 14 years, it has been my privilege and delight to have been awarded the  responsibility for the repair, restoration and conservation of the amazingly beautiful  mosaic sculptures of the artist Niki de Saint-Phalle at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. 

The ongoing conservation incorporates restoration of the sculptures themselves and the glass fiber infrastructure that holds the mosaics. Age-damaged glass and mosaic pieces are replaced, and the beautifully painted tiles that are an integral part of this artistic creation are also restored. This painstaking work is to ensure the continued existence of the sculptures and preserve their original appearance for decades to come.

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The "Noah's Ark" sculpture exhibition was designed and built by the French / American artist Niki de Saint-Phalle, who became famous in Israel due to her giant "Golem" sculpture/slide (depicting the “Golem of Prague” – a mythical monster of Jewish folklore formed out of mud who allegedly acted as a savior in times of trouble ) popularly known as just the "Monster" in the Kiryat Yuval neighborhood of Jerusalem. The sculpture garden in the Biblical Zoo was established in cooperation with the Jerusalem Foundation, which financed the construction of the Noah's Ark from donations - including a predominantly large donation from the Bronfman family. The entire cost of this publicly loved project reached $ 5 million.

The garden consists of a " Noah's Ark" structure designed by the Swiss architect Mario Bota, and 21 animal sculptures ranging between 1 - 3 meters high, designed by Saint-Phalle. Among the animals, some of which are imaginary, are a rhinoceros, an elephant-giraffe, a cat, a duck, a spider and other exotic creatures. The sculptures are made of foamed polymeric material, which rests on a metal skeleton, and are studded with colorful mirrors, mosaic stones and pebbles. The total area spans 4 dunams (4,000 sq. meters).

The landscape designer of both the zoo and the sculpture garden was the Landscaping firm Miller Blum from Haifa.

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