This expert has cleaned Mount Rushmore and other historic landmarks. Next stop, the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Apr 26, 2017

Landmark restorative cleaner Thorsten Mowes tells SilverKris about his close encounters with some of the world’s most iconic structures.

Not everyone can say they have cleaned George Washington’s nose. But Thorsten Mowes can. As project manager for Karcher, the German specialist in restorative cleaning, the 40-year-old puts the shine back on some of the world’s most famous monuments.

Among them are the granite faces of Mount Rushmore, USA. “Besides the original stonemasons and builders in 1934, no other person had set foot on President Washington’s nose until we cleaned it,” says Mowes, who has worked on more than 80 projects in 50 countries.

His first assignment was the ancient Colossi of Memnon statues in Luxor, Egypt. “At 3,400 years old, they’re the oldest monuments I’ve ever cleaned,” he says. “Restorative cleaning is different from cleaning a new building… you have to work with heritage departments because you can’t risk damage to a monument.”


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Mowes’ impressive portfolio also includes Matsudagawa Dam in Japan, Brazil’s Christ the Redeemer statue, and the London Eye. Not surprisingly, the logistics for each project is daunting. And for the past five years, Mowes and his team have been prepping for the Forbidden City in Beijing.

With so much travel, Mowes prefers to holiday closer to home in Winnenden, a bucolic swathe of mountains and forests 20km north-east of Stuttgart. “This year, my family and I went to a working farm in the Italian Dolomites in South Tyrol. But I look forward to showing my five-year-old daughter Cambodia, Laos and Thailand.”



This article was originally published on October 12, 2016.