Miami University Art Museum Refreshes Sculpture Park

Enjoy this blog post where we share information about International Sculpture Day and updates on Sculpture maintenance & improvements.

Celebrating International Sculpture Day / Month

Join us on Saturday, April 30 from 12-5 PM as we celebrate International Sculpture Day.

Highlights of the day’s events include a 1:30 PM performance on the lawn by the Miami University Steel Drum Band, FREE Kona Ice (first 100 guests), frisbees (hidden throughout the park) and interactive sculpture activities (in the auditorium).

Sculpture Park Improvements

By David Dotson, Preparator and Building Manager

Here at MUAM we are fortunate to have some truly amazing sculptures by some of the best names in the art world such as Nancy Holt, Richard Hunt, and Mark di Suvero as part of our Outdoor Sculpture Park. MUAM carried out a number of improvements within our Sculpture Park over the past year, which is supported through a fund from Thomas W. Smith ’50, used to maintain and conserve our outdoor sculpture. Outdoor sculpture presents a lot of challenges. There are many hostile forces working against us in the quest to conserve these works. Sun, weather, corrosion, erosion, and the human element of use, and/or vandalism/incidents can all negatively affect the sculptures. Materials of the pieces themselves can also pose problems as they aren’t always meant to last.

Probably our most recognizable piece, Mark di Suvero’s For Kepler, 1995 was on our list of works slated for an update this year. Donated by Thomas Smith in 1995, For Kepler is a monumental steel construction inspired by the 17th century astronomer, Johannes Kepler, who is best known for his laws of planetary motion. Di Suvero thought about the piece as representing a supernova explosion, that he emphasized by the angular arrangements of the steel beams and his use of the vibrant red surface treatment. That vibrant red over the years, unfortunately, lost some of its luster and weathering caused a great deal of flaking in the paint. To remedy this, we decided, in conjunction with di Suvero’s studio, on a plan to sandblast the piece down to the bare steel, and then to prime, and repaint the entire sculpture. We brought in local contractors to perform both the sandblasting and painting, which should keep For Kepler looking as vibrant as ever for years to come.

Our other major project this year was on Fletcher Benton’s Folded Circle Two Squares, 1980 which sits outside the entrance of the Art Museum. Folded Circle Two Squares was a gift from the class of 1955 and the artist himself and is an excellent example of Benton’s interest in how basic geometric forms can be manipulated to activate the space around them. The location of Benton’s sculpture was originally a reflecting pool, but due to mechanical issues it needed to be filled in. When that work was done, small bushes were planted by the piece and over the years those bushes began to obscure the sculpture. We decided to remove the mulch and shrubbery that had been planted and replace it with something more in line with Benton’s minimalist aesthetic. We brought in local contractors who did an excellent job of removing the old bushes and mulch and replacing it with slate chips that matched the existing stone and greatly enhanced the visibility of the sculpture itself.

It has been exciting to help steward these works of art and hope you are all able to come visit and enjoy them as much as I do!

David Dotson is the Preparator and Building Manager at the Miami University Art Museum. He is responsible for preparing spaces and art objects for exhibition, storage, conservation, and transportation as well as maintaining the Sculpture Park located on the Museum grounds.