On Tuesday morning, April 5, a small crowd of neighbors, Library staff and journalists gathered outside the Douglass-Truth Branch to see a very welcome event: A forklift lowering the carefully wrapped 21-foot tall Soul Pole artwork into its base on the lawn of the Library.
The Soul Pole has stood tall in that base since 1973, minus the last year, when it was temporarily taken down for conservation work. It was returning home.
By 1 p.m., the workers from Artech Fine Art Services finished unwrapping the Soul Pole and bolting it into its base.
At 2 p.m., under mostly blue skies, the Library hosted a short program to honor the Soul Pole’s history and conservation work, featuring speakers with deep connections to the Central District community and the history and significance of the Soul Pole.
Seattle-area residents who have a card with The Seattle Public Library can visit more museums for free, courtesy of the Library’s Museum Pass program (www.spl.org/MuseumPass).
We are excited to share that five Seattle museums have rejoined the program: the Center for Wooden Boats, the Henry Art Gallery, Museum of History & Industry, the Seattle Art Museum and the Seattle Asian Art Museum (which share a pass).
Including these partners, the Library is now offering passes to 11 cultural institutions:
As mentioned in our “first Soul Pole story,” the historic sculpture at the Library’s Douglass-Truth Branch in the Central District was deinstalled in 2021 so that it could undergo conservation work.
The goal was to preserve the piece so that it could be reinstalled at its original location at the corner of 23rd Avenue and E. Yesler Way, and available for the community to enjoy for decades to come.
The Library contracted with Artech Fine Art Services, an organization with extensive experience in restoration and preservation, to manage the project. They worked with Corine Landrieu of Landrieu Conservation, one of the Northwest’s top conservators.
Now that the conservation work is complete and the Soul Pole will soon be reinstalled, we asked Corine Landrieu and Artech’s Kate Dawson to share highlights of the project, and what visitors will (and will not) notice about changes to the Soul Pole after it stands tall at the Douglass-Truth Branch once again, representing 400 years of African-American history.
How has the Soul Pole’s cultural importance informed your approach?
Kate Dawson: The Soul Pole’s cultural significance and its great value in the community informed the route that we took and, of course, the great care and amount of work that went into this project. Including a conservator like Corine was an important piece of that plan. Corine has worked on many projects with culturally significant objects.
We knew from the beginning that maintaining community access was a key goal – making sure that visitors could continue to see the Soul Pole outside Douglass-Truth and interact with it. So we were looking for that balance of preserving it in a way that it could still be interacted with in its original spot. Continue reading “Soul Pole Stories: Conservation and Restoration”
Kirk was a pioneer and leading light of the distinctive Northwest modernist architectural style that flourished between the 1940s and 1970s. This style was influenced by a traditional Japanese aesthetic and emphasized simple and elegant designs that fit into the natural landscape.