Time-lapse video: Adam statue on display at Met Museum after 12-year restoration

NEW YORK -- A 15th-century statue that shattered into pieces when it fell from its pedestal at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is going back on display after a 12-year repair job that museum officials said broke new ground in how such conservation efforts are carried out.

The life-sized marble sculpture of Adam by Venetian sculptor Tullio Lombardo goes on view to the public on Tuesday. It's the first installation in the museum's new Venetian Sculpture Gallery.

In October 2002, the statue toppled when one side of its pedestal gave way. It broke into 28 large pieces and numerous small fragments, with most of the damage on the arms, lower legs and a decorative tree trunk. The head and face, along with the torso, managed to avoid serious damage, the museum said.

At the time, the museum's then-director, Philippe de Montebello, called it "a deep emotional loss."

The conservation effort brought together museum curators and conservators along with materials scientists and engineers. They looked for the best materials to use to hold the pieces together without damaging the marble, and in the process came up with new models and procedures for statue conservation, the museum said.

"Our extraordinary conservators collaborated with a team of experts over 12 years to pursue this extremely challenging work," said Thomas Campbell, the museum's director. "The results of their care and innovation are stunning."

The statue dates to the early 1490s and came to the Met in 1936.
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