More than a dozen damaged umbrellas in the Umbrella Sky art installation hanging over Cross Street in downtown Bangor will be repaired on Wednesday.
The umbrellas were likely damaged and knocked askew a few weeks ago during a storm that brought high winds to the Bangor area. That storm came shortly after the display was installed in late July, according to Betsy Lundy, director of Downtown Bangor Partnership.
The damage is concentrated toward the end of Cross Street that is closest to Main Street where the installation is subjected to wind from multiple directions, Lundy said.
While it’s understandable that umbrellas at the exposed end of the installation are most susceptible to damage, Lundy also said it’s unfortunate, as that’s the part of the display that’s most visible from Main Street, which typically sees heavier foot traffic.
Despite the damage, Lundy said the community seems to appreciate and approve of the installation.
“It’s unfortunate that the most visible damage is closest to Main Street, but they look great otherwise,” Lundy said. “It’s rare I don’t see someone there taking a picture of them, and it has become a popular spot for senior pictures.”
The Umbrella Sky Project, created by Downtown Bangor Partnership and sponsor Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, is part of an international project created in 2012 by the Portuguese art company Impactplan. The art is inspired by Mary Poppins and seeks to protect and shade public spaces while bringing a sense of fantasy and whimsy to otherwise mundane, monochromatic city streets.
Similar umbrella canopies have hung over streets in Paris, London and Dubai, but Bangor’s is the first display in Maine.
Cross Street was selected to host the umbrellas to help draw foot traffic from Main Street to Columbia Street, a less traveled area with a handful of small businesses, Lundy said. Cross Street was also thought to be a more sheltered area of where the umbrellas wouldn’t get damaged by the elements, though that has since been disproven.
Downtown Bangor Partnership previously attempted to have the umbrellas repaired and righted, Lundy said, but doing so requires a crew to borrow a forklift and receive a street closure permit from the city.
If the umbrellas in that area continue to get damaged easily, Lundy said the wires that hold the umbrellas closest to Main Street may get moved up the hill, closer to Columbia Street, as that area is more sheltered from the wind.
Regardless of how the umbrellas fare until they’re removed for the winter in October, Lundy is already planning ahead for next year when the umbrellas go up in May.
“There’s a little bit of trial and error, and it’s going to have to be maintained, so we’re going to be building that regular maintenance into next year’s schedule so it isn’t as much of a surprise as it was this year,” she said.