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Arts & Culture

ULTIMATE RESTORATIONS: The Illions Supreme Carousel: A Rare Masterpiece

Dan Hornburger describes the intricate construction of an antique carousel horse.
Dan Hornburger describes the intricate construction of an antique carousel horse.

Airs Monday, May 4, 2015 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

KQED presents a new eight-part series, ULTIMATE RESTORATIONS, featuring the spellbinding restorations of irreplaceable masterpieces. ULTIMATE RESTORATIONS showcases the rescue and restoration of some of the most valuable mechanical icons of the Golden Age (1880-1940), a high point in innovation and craftsmanship. The series, hosted by Bob McNeil, tells the spellbinding stories behind eight of American history’s greatest historical and engineering treasures — the world’s largest pipe organ; a surviving 1920s fire engine; a “fish car” designed to transport live fish by train; a priceless carousel; a World War II spy plane; one of the first U.S. yachts to round Cape Horn and a famous steam locomotive. The passionate restorers and committed craftspeople discuss the challenges associated with reviving these massive icons to their original glory: moving huge pieces of equipment, salvaging from sea-floor beds, searching for rare parts, and dealing with complicated mechanical systems.

"The Illions Supreme Carousel: A Rare Masterpiece" - The Illions Supreme was once the largest and most spectacular carousel from renowned master carver Marcus Charles Illions, with individual horses valued in the millions today. Incredibly, its provenance faded away under weather and cheap paint and it languished in storage for almost 60 years. Piecing it back together requires engineers and artists alike, but the results are breathtaking.