Every few months, the orange paint glob at the base of Claes Oldenburg’s Paint Torch(2011) sculpture on Lenfest Plaza is cleaned by PAFA conservation staff to remove grime, dark scuff marks, and paint left behind by countless children’s sneakers, bike tires, and skateboards.

Cleaning a sculpture is like cleaning other works of art—the products and chemicals used for cleaning must remove dirt without damaging the artwork’s surface, which in this case is a fiberglass shell coated in bright orange catalyzed automotive paint. Most of the grime and scuffs can be removed with a soapy car wash solution and elbow grease, but the most stubborn scuffs can only be removed with solvents. In all, cleaning takes about an hour and a half.

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