Monumental Restoration

Photo by Ed Nute

The Landing of the Pilgrims,” a massive oil painting by Henry Sargent, has hung at Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth for the last 186 years.  Measuring 13 by 16 feet, the monumental painting is a work of national significance, as it helped establish the Pilgrims as the “forefathers” of America. Renowned art conservator David Olin and his team from the nationally recognized Olin Conservation Inc. in Virginia, recently completed a painstaking three-month project to restore the painting to its former glory.

Landing of the Pilgrims by Henry Sargent

Almost two centuries of grime was removed from the painting, along with multiple layers of different types of varnish that caused the painting to darken over time. Microscopy and magnification tools along with complex solutions and solvents were used to reveal the beauty of the original art. The majority of work was done in the main hall of the museum so members of the public were able to observe the team at work. The restoration was also presented via a live web feed.

“It’s always interesting to learn about the artist’s techniques and see how he was influenced by other artists of the time,” says Olin. “When the process is complete the painting will be significantly brighter and it will have a lot more contrast and vibrancy.” The projected completion date for the project is June 30 and the museum will hold an unveiling event in July. For more information, visit

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