Public sculpture has always been a source of civic pride and identity throughout Saint Paul and across the United States. From the late 19th century, beautiful works by the great artists of the time were commissioned for public places. As sculptures were dedicated as gifts to cities and states, little attention was paid to a long-term view of maintaining sculpture condition and, over time, weather, pollution, vandalism and neglect have taken a toll on Saint Paul’s historic sculptures.
Since 1994, Public Art Saint Paul has led the effort to clean, restore and celebrate Saint Paul’s cultural treasures, including four of the city’s most significant sculptures installed in a series of small parks on upper Summit Avenue. Public Art Saint Paul began its stewardship efforts as the Twin Cities and Minnesota leader of the national Save Outdoor Sculpture (SOS) program, an initiative of the Smithsonian Institution that involved an inventory and basic condition assessment of works throughout the U.S. Cultural historian Tom Zahn was engaged to manage this effort and has remained an advisor to the Public Art Saint Paul stewardship program ever since.
Following the SOS initiative, Public Art Saint Paul set out to restore the most historically significant works in the city’s collection: Nathan Hale, The Indian Hunter and His Dog, and the New York Life Eagle (all at the head of historic Summit Avenue) and sculptures of literary giants Henrick Ibsen and Schiller in Como Park. Public Art Saint Paul has subsequently underwritten and provided regular professional maintenance for these and dozens of Saint Paul sculptures. In 2017, we will restore Soldiers and Sailors Civil War Memorial in Summit Park near the Cathedral.
Read the story of the historic Sculptures of Summit Avenue.