February 22, 2009

Renaissance sculpture found at N.Y. museum

A sculpture thought to be a Renaissance work has been uncovered at the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport, N.Y., site officials say.

Museum Executive Director Carol Ghiorsi Hart said an 8-foot-tall terra cotta Madonna and child was found behind a basement wall by a restoration curator, Newsday reported Sunday.

Restoration supervisor Peter Newman said he began searching the museum basement for the sculpture after seeing a photograph of it in a 1952 newspaper clipping.

Hart said he finally located it behind a basement wall two weeks ago and soon received permission to excavate it.

Unfortunately the sculpture, which is thought to have been created by the famed della Robbia Renaissance art family during the 15th or 16th century, was significantly damaged.

Newsday said the museum, which is facing financial hardships due to the declining value of its endowment, is hopeful a display using the rediscovered sculpture will boost visitor attendance.