Anticipating the maiden sculptures

Employee observing fountain efficiency speaks into walkie talkie

Sam Smith (right), sophomore in construction engineering and a summer intern with the project contractor, Neumann Brothers of Des Moines, communicates via radio with plumbing adjustors inside the Memorial Union. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Orientation families last week who passed the Memorial Union basin with a splashing fountain perhaps didn't realize its novelty. The new fountain mechanism and plumbing system are receiving a 30-day (8 a.m.-10 p.m. daily) operational test prior to the arrival of four limestone sculptures the first week of August. The fountain last ran in November 2022.

The process of replicating the four Native American maidens in Christian Petersen's iconic 80-year-old Fountain of the Four Seasons sculpture should wrap up in early July in a Barre, Vermont, studio. University Museums, which celebrates 50 years in September, opted to have Petersen's originals replicated while it's still possible to detect detail on their surfaces.

Weather permitting, the new sculptures are scheduled to be set in place the week of Aug. 5.