Protecting statues


Hi there,

Do any of you have/use statues? I have a few I really like which are in my home “shrine” which is the top of a chest of drawers in front of a window. Both (the statues with crucifix and God’s sky) help me to pray.

I’m a little concerned of the sunlight fading the paint on my statues. Does anyone have any advice how to keep them preserved from this? That is, other than close the drapes which I do, but some days I want them open but don’t want to move my statues. Currently, I’m trying a little black rigid foam backdrop that sort of works, and looks ok, but was wondering if there are better solutions.



@Irishmom2 might have some ideas :slight_smile:


For valuable artworks, professional application of chemical coatings like Krylon is often used:

If they are ordinary plaster of Paris casts of no particular value, you could try buying and applying the product yourself. Just be sure to read the instructions.


Cloches (glass or plastic domes) are another option.


thanks Andrew. Looking like there’s not a lot of options but that spray might work. currently thinking my black foam board is good, just need a little more.


For what it’s worth, my grandmother is in her 90’s, and has had some painted plaster statues in her house since before I was born… they’ve probably been exposed to the light since the 60’s, if I had to guess. (Currently in east-facing wall niches.) They still look fine.

Have you noticed visible evidence of fading, or are you trying to take precautionary measures?


The same with my mother. Her sixty-year-old statues look just fine, and they are in a sunny room with sunlight falling on them for a good part of the day.

Preservation is a serious consideration for precious artworks of serious monetary value.

For common plaster of Paris statues, the cost and inconvenience of trying to preserve them probably outstrips their value, and can decrease your enjoyment of them, as well.

Besides, a lot of people think that the fading adds to the feeling of antiquity of the object. A lot of people were disappointed when the Sistine Chapel was restored, because the colors were too bright and fresh, as bright and fresh as the day that Michelangelo painted them. They preferred the faded, grimy version because it conferred the idea of great age, which they found somehow comforting.


That’s encouraging! No, I haven’t… maybe I’m worrying about nothing. It’s just they get some strong direct sunlight where they are and wouldn’t want them to fade.



I used to be a museum curator, so I always subconsciously pay attention to objects and the Agents of Deterioration that may be affecting them! :slight_smile:

If I recall, any damage to her statues that I may have noticed came from transportation. So as long as you put it in one place and leave it there, it should be much safer than moving them frequently.

You might consider putting up blinds that you can open and close, or perhaps add a layer of sheers to your drapes, where the main drapes can be open, but the thin drapes block the full brunt of the direct light. If your windows are energy-efficient, they probably have some sort of a gas that blocks heat and some of the radiation that leads to color fading (fugitivity).

Glancing at some of my handbooks, I don’t see anything that talks about plaster, specifically, but as far as ceramics are concerned (if you have a ceramic statue), the thing you need to be careful of most is going to be heat and humidity fluctuations and their effect on the glazes. But if the temperature and humidity are pretty stable year-round, then a ceramic statue should be fine. For a plaster statue, I’d expect the relative humidity of the room to be the key issue, especially if the plaster isn’t sealed. So if you live in a humid climate, I’d recommend you keep your windows closed and the humidity relatively stable.

Edit-- here, you might give this a read-through, from the Canadian Conservation Institute, regarding the care of plaster of Paris objects.


Interesting! thanks much!


I see that Krylon offers an archival protection clear gloss coating. Pricey as aerosols go, but it might be worth a try. Of course, testing on an inconspicuous location is the first step.


Golden Artists Colors also makes a very good archival varnish spray with UV protection. It comes in gloss, satin and matte. IMO, Golden is a notch above Krylon products. It retails for @ $24 a can. They have a great website full of technical information.


Thanks for all the advice, everyone! I probably am worrying about nothing here (St. Padre Pio, pray for me!). I realized I’ve had my crucifix in this location for 4 years and looked at the back of it closely and it’s fine! I don’t think I liked the background foam I tried as it’s too dark during the day and everything looks great in daylight. I was just concerned about too much direct sunlight, but will draw the drapes during the day when I’m away, etc.

My plan is to monitor them and if they start to fade, I’ll probably get some of that protective spray a couple of you suggested.

Here’s a photo.

Thanks for your help!


Beautiful! Who would not be inspired by that personal holy space?


Thanks! It certainly helps me to pray!


Very nice! It’s a lovely space. I’m happy for you!

Happy your crucifix didn’t show any signs of fading. :slight_smile: Things like bold reds and vibrant blues are going to be most likely to be fugitive colors-- prone to fading-- but it looks like the colors you have are likely to be pretty stable.


thanks! every piece is special in some way… the crucifix is from the only Church approved Marian Apprarition site in the USA, the Eucharist medal I attached to it was blessed by the priest I grew up with, the St. Philomena was blessed in the full Tradtional Latin Rite (yes in Latin and the priest kissed it after he blessed it), the St. Francis was blessed by an Abbot at the Diocese where I attend Mass regularly whom I love, and the BVM and Infant are heirlooms from my Mom who had them as long as I can remember. (As is the chest of drawers everything is on!)


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