YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED ABOUT HOW TO PRESERVE BRONZE PLAQUES AND MEMORIALSBronze plaques and memorials need to be preserved so they can fulfil their function to inform and commemorate important historical events. Sadly, damaging bronze when attempting to do a good thing like clean it, is something we see other people do a lot. Bronze is a reactive metal and, you need to choose your materials wisely, and understand what you are cleaning. We have put together a list of frequently asked questions to help you understand the fundamentals of preserving bronze plaques and memorials. We hope it’s useful. Feel free to email us with any specific questions and we’ll reply to you directly. We may even include your question this list!
Dilute neutral soap solution and a soft cloth can be useful to remove dirt and grime from bronze but don’t drench the bronze with water. Use it sparingly and dry the bronze thoroughly after cleaning. Super-heated water systems can also be valuable if you are working on something large scale. This method can be combined with dilute soap solution.
Solvents, like white spirit, can be valuable in removing oily residues and old wax from bronze. Always wear gloves if you are using solvents and apply with a soft textile rag, ideally lint free.
You can easily damage bronze by scratching or rubbing away the original patina, never use abrasion or commercial cleaning products unless you have sought expert advice.
Corrosion cannot be cleaned off in the same way dirt and grime can. You have to be very careful when dealing with a bronze’s patina whether it’s pretty or not. Corrosion isn’t necessarily something to be concerned about, in fact, its colour can be quite beautiful. Other types, however, need to be addressed because they are disfiguring or active. It’s best to contact an expert. when you are dealing with corrosion. We have a useful blog-post about different how to clean bronze, do take a look.
Bronze needs frequent maintenance to keep it looking good and stable. Frequency depends on the bronze plaque’s environment. An outdoor plaque should have maintenance at least once a year. Indoor ones may not need it as often unless they are touched frequently by the public.
We have many free articles on our blog that can help you learn about bronze and we also run an online course, but the Institute of Conservation has many great resources too covering all categories of conservation and restoration. A good book you can buy from Amazon is called, Metals and Corrosion – Handbook for the Conservation Professional by Lyndsie Selwyn.