Central Park Obelisk Cleaned by Lasers, Not the Cool Kind

July 11, 2014 | Sophie Weiner

The beloved 3,500-year-old Egyptian obelisk behind the Metropolitan Museum is undergoing a laser cleaning. Since its arrival in New York in 1880, the 69-foot-statue has collected quite a bit of dirt. It’s become difficult to see the many intricate hieroglyphs the statue is carved with. The Central Park Conservancy gave $500,000 to the cleaning project. In case you were worried the lasers might be too exciting, the New York Times is here to set you straight.

Though the conservators wore bulky respirators and greenish goggles, the scene around the Obelisk did not look like something out of science fiction. The laser did not produce a ruby-red beam, but a white pinpoint. It did not hum eerily. It crackled.

The workers did however erect tarpaulins to protect innocent passerby from the powerful beams. When the project is finished in about a week, the crew will cover the stone with a “consolidating agent that binds stone particles at a molecular level.” Whoa. (Photo: @76807015@N03)