Mariya Marchenko, reporter: “Griffons atop the Bankovsky Bridge have become the victims of people’s superstitions. Sculptures have recently been restored, but the gold plating on their wings has again been rubbed off. Every passing tourist wants to rub the feathers - as a good luck charm”.
And this kind of gentleness is harmful for the winged lions. The layer of gold plating is thinner than a human hair. The visitors to the city are not put off even by a CCTV camera.
Nadezhda Efremova - Head researcher at the Museum of Urban Sculptures, which the sculptures belong to - could not hide her scorn during the interview.
What superstition? Its rubbish. Millions have been invested into the restoration work.
Nadezhda does not have any qualms when it comes to the work of restoration masters. Not one type of gold plating would survive thousands of hands.
Nadezhda Efremova, head researcher at State Museum of Urban Sculptures: “The process of restoring the gold plating took place in dust-free environment. Materials were selected very carefully. Highly qualified specialists were assigned. And everything was done to ensure the gold plating applied thoroughly”.
The capital renovation of the Bankovsky Bridge lasted for 2.5 years. The winged lions left their podiums for the first time in their 200-year-long lives. The original look of the sculptures was restored by specialists - from a nearly hazardous state. The cracks were so wide that tourists hid wish notes in them.
Now those have been sealed off. Not ideally though, according to metal restoration artist Kuzma Odintsov.
Kuzma Odintsov, restoration artist: “Nadezhda Nikolaevna, are you not put off by the fact that the shapes do not align? There’s a one centimeter handicap here. The junction is higher than the other side by a centimeter. Could Sokolov have made it like that?”
Kuzma Odintsov is one of the restoration workers who have worked on metallic decorations of Emperor’s pavillion of Vitebsky train station. He says it is not rocket science to see that the restored bridge does not look right. The rails are shaky, and the decorations do not match the photographs.
Kuzma Odintsov, restoration artist: “The ornament changed completely after the restoration work. Before it, the fencing with circular shapes stood right on the bridge - which is evidence of classicism. Now those look more like chicken legs. And side grips are gone, which added stability to the railing as well”.
The company which ordered the work - “Mostotrest” - insists that it was completed in full accordance with the approved plan.
Alexandra Onopriychuk, head of “Mostotrest” press-service: “The work was conducted under full supervision of the project’s designer. Before pedestrians were even allowed back onto the bridge, dynamic tests of it were held by a designated company - which ruled the bridge operational with no limitations. It is fully safe for pedestrians.
It would be impossible to rule out superstitions. Visitors will continue robbing the statues off their golden dust. But the Museum of Urban Sculptures reminds us - St. Petersburg is called “the open-air museum” for a good reason. And the lions with golden wings are among its most valuable treasures.