Save Outdoor Sculpture! (SOS!) helps communities across the United States preserve and promote their sculpture. SOS! began in 1989 by involving 7,000 volunteers and state and local organizations to catalog and assess 30,000 publicly accessible outdoor sculptures. Of that total, 54 percent were determined to be in critical or urgent need of conservation to survive. The data is accessible via the Inventory of American Sculpture database at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Since then, SOS! has been an advocate for the proper care of this often-neglected public resource. Citizens are working to preserve sculptures and monuments across the United States, and SOS! helps them by providing resources to spark local action. SOS! encourages a multi-faceted approach to preservation: assessment, conservation treatment, public awareness, education, and long-term maintenance. This approach helps increase appreciation and care of public sculpture in both the short and long term, and involving professional conservators throughout the process ensures proper care of the sculpture.
SOS! education programs like the Girl Scout Patch Program and Inside Outdoor Sculpture, the interdisciplinary kit and resource guide, encourage young Americans to see America’s national collection of outdoor sculpture with new eyes, to relate to it in new ways, and to safeguard it for future generations. The SOS! newsletters are no longer published, but back issues are available here.