Early on June 7, in front of a small media team, the Liberty Bell received a fresh covering of protective wax, part of the ongoing preservation process for this American icon.
The curatorial team at Independence National Historical Park oversaw the refurbishment of the bell. Technician Jonathan Miller, pictured above, administered the new application of wax to the inside of the bell, a procedure performed regularly as part of the larger conservation effort.
“We heat the interior surface of the bell to remove as much as we can of the existing old wax, then the new wax is applied,” said Curator Bob Giannini.
Over 2 million visitors view the Liberty Bell every year, and many of them can’t fight the temptation to touch a piece of history. Along with the harmful effects of fingerprints, environmental pollutants pose a problem for the maintenance of the Liberty Bell. The bell is comprised primarily of copper and tin, and its pitted surface makes it a prime target for dirt and dust. If not treated properly, these elements can erode the surface of the bell. The neutral wax coating prevents the soft metal from weathering.
This preservation effort was used as a teaching moment by the park, helping Philadelphians and visitors to the park understand that maintenance is preservation. Ongoing conservation efforts by National Park Service specialists will ensure that the Liberty Bell’s message of freedom and liberty will continue to sound for generations to come.