NYC Parks Readying ‘Dante’ for His 700th Anniversary with Rededication Ceremony in Dante Park on September 14th




Statue of the poet, Dante Alighieri in Dante Park

With the help of specially trained City Cleanup Corps (CCC) staff, NYC Parks’ monuments crew is fully conserving the famed statue of Dante Alighieri by Ettore Ximenes, using blow torches and boom lifts to treat the bronze sculpture in advance of the 700th anniversary of the Italian poet’s death in September.

Often referred to as ‘Dante‘, he is probably best known for his work, ‘Divine Comedy.’ His depictions of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven provided inspiration for Western art and literature, and he is often described as ‘the father of the Italian language.’

The sculpture of Dante Alighieri, created by the artist Ettore Ximenes, stands 25′ 7″ high, and was most recently dedicated in Dante Park in 1921, a gift of the Citizens of Italian Descent on the 600th Anniversary of the poet’s death. The inscription reads simply ~ Dante.

Photo credit: NYC Parks/Daniel Avila

Skilled conservation staff and apprentices are conserving the larger-than-life-sized bronze sculpture by Ettore Ximenes depicting Italian Renaissance author and poet Dante Alighieri (1265–1321). With the aid of high-reaching boom lifts, the two-week conservation involves chemical patination and recoating the bronze with a traditional hot wax finish, as well as cleaning the granite base and repointing the failed masonry joints of the massive granite-clad pedestal. The monument’s granite-clad pedestal was designed by the architectural firm of Warren and Wetmore. The monument was dedicated in 1921, the 600th anniversary of Dante’s death. 

Of the 2,500 City Cleanup Corps (CCC) staff at Parks, a small team has been getting hands-on, specialized training with a variety of materials, methods, and skills while helping to preserve Parks’ 850+ permanent artworks. Dante is one of many permanent artworks throughout the five boroughs that are receiving CCC-care this summer.

About NYC Parks’ Citywide Monuments Conservation Program 

A public-private partnership founded in 1997, CMCP is a conservation program dedicated to preserving the NYC Parks’ rich sculptural legacy and cultural heritage. CMCP has won the Mayor’s Special Recognition Art Commission Award, a prestigious Lucy Moses Award from the New York Landmarks Conservancy and was the recipient of the first place award from the national Save Outdoor Sculpture/Heritage Preservation Program.

photo credit: NYC Parks/Daniel Avila

A rededication ceremony was held on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 at 2:00pm. The ceremony will include a poetry reading by acclaimed actor and narrator Edoardo Ballerini and a musical performance and reading by students from La Scuola d’Italia. NYC Parks Manhattan Borough Commissioner William Castro will celebrate the centennial rededication of the recently conserved statue of Dante Alighieri on the 700th anniversary of the poet’s death, joined by Italian Consul General Fabrizio Di Michele; Director of the Italian Cultural Institute in New York Fabio Finotti; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer; Lincoln Square Business Improvement District President Monica Blum; Dante Society of America President and NYU Professor Alison Cornish; Stefano Albertini, Director of NYU’s Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimo; Anthony Tamburri, Dean of the Calandra Italian American Institute and President of the NY Chapter of the Società Dante Alighieri; and Founder and President of the Institute for Italian American Experience Mico Delianova Licastro.  

“We praise NYC Parks for this event and the restoration work on the statue of Dante, right in the year of the 700th anniversary of his death,” said the Consul General of Italy in New York, Hon. Fabrizio Di Michele. “Dante is a precursor and a symbol of the Italian language and culture and it is very important to be able to commemorate him in New York, which is one of the most ‘Italian’ cities outside Italy!”

“The Dante Alighieri Statue in Dante Park is such a historical and cultural gem of the Lincoln Square neighborhood, and we are deeply grateful to the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation for the recent restoration work that will allow the statue to shine as a beacon of inspiration in our community for another century,” said Monica Blum, President of the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District.

Photo credit: NYC Parks/Daniel Avila

“In his Divine Comedy, Dante creates the Italian language, bringing within it other languages and other cultures. We still venerate Dante’s image today because his poetry addresses not only Italians but to all men, teaching them that language is a magnificent tool for connecting differences and multiple identities, not for erasing them,” said Fabio Finotti, Director of the Italian Cultural Institute in New York. 

“Today Dante takes off his mask!” said Alison Cornish, NYU Professor and Chair of Italian Studies and President of The Dante Society of America. On behalf of The Dante Society of America, I thank the NYC Parks Monuments Conservation Program and the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District for their maintenance and renewal of this sculpture, which represents a piece of immigrant history, making the medieval poet part of the present-day urban fabric of New York City.”

The Dante Alighieri statue is located in Dante Park, West 63rd Street and Broadway, across from Lincoln Center and the Radisson Empire Hotel. Dante Park is also a frequent site for outdoor art installations by Broadway Mall Association.