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Public Library Statues
Statues Become a Symbol for a Library
The lion statues at the New York Public Library are a beloved symbol that is recognizable all over the country. Even a less grand statue placed on the library lawn or in the children's area of the library makes art accessible to the people.
With stripped-down budgets, how can a library justify spending money on a piece of art? Does a statue really add that much to a library's presence and branding?
I say, "yes!" I'll share my personal experience with library statues and invite you to add your stories and links to much loved library statues.
Graphic from Zazzle: lion library post cards by cardart
Libraries Sometimes Have Statues of Famous People
The public library in Louisville, Kentucky has a statue of Abraham Lincoln in front of the building. It was donated along with a number of valuable paintings by Mr. and Mrs. Isaac W. Bernheim in 1923. The library no longer has the paintings but still has the sculpture.
Videos Showing Library Statues - and some background on them
Does Your Nearest Library Have a Sculpture?
Vote in the poll
Statue of Gandhi at the Bellevue Library
Lions for Your Library Entrance - Start your own tradition with lion sculptures
Everyone recognizes the New York Public Library lions, but these are different. Sitting proudly they will welcome your library patrons.
Majestic looking pair.
Troy Pillow Sculpture at the Richmond Beach Library
The New York Library Lions as Bookends - Available from Amazon
These would look quite handsome on the librarian's desk, holding some reference books in place.
The Bethel, CT Library Has a Statue of P.T. Barnum
Types of Sculptures for Libraries - and examples
- Often the statue at a library commemorates an important person from that community.
- Statues at libraries can feature a literary character from a book.
- A library statue might feature a famous author or one of local origin.
- The library statue can celebrate reading by featuring a reader. Often it is a young child reading but it can be a reader of any age.
Benjamin Franklin Statue - Louisville Public Library
Graphic from Zazzle: Benjamin Franklin statue postcard by OldTip
How Libraries Funded Statues - Examples from various libraries
Traveling Art Exhibit
When I was the library director in Weslaco, TX, there was a nonprofit that was trying to place sculptures in libraries. The organizer felt it benefited artists by giving them places to display their art. People who might not ever visit a gallery or think about buying a sculpture possibly would be inspired to buy one if they saw it in a public library.
We signed up for the program since it was structured with no fees for the library. Even the insurance for the art was covered by the nonprofit. Since the library had a large courtyard that was secure with gates each night, we were able to have a quite large sculpture.
It was a larger-than-life blue heron on the wing. They placed the 6-foot tall metal statue in a shallow fountain in the courtyard. Around the outer edge of the courtyard were lush tropical plantings. The statue looked magnificent in that setting.
When it was time for the sculpture to leave, we tried to get a local organization to buy it for a birding center that would be opening soon. They were interested but unable to come up with the needed funds at that time.
Everyone loved the statue and we even had a watercolor painting group come and all the members tried painting scenes with the heron and the courtyard.
Funding by a Foundation
The Natrona County Public Library acquired a sculpture showing three children with books walking across a bridge composed of more books. This was funded by the Tate Foundation. You can see the sculpture in Casper, Wyoming.
Looking through to the Weslaco Public Library Courtyard (photo by Isaac Monter)
How a Library Statue Was Funded
- EMCL graced with new bronze statue - Brush News-Tribune
Statue of a reader donated in memory of a local citizen. It is at the East Morgan County Library in Colorado.
© 2012 Virginia Allain