Iowa State Memorial Union

Fountain Conservation Project

Maidens from the Fountain of the Four Seasons to be preserved and placed in University Museums after replicas are made

AMES, IOWA - October 20, 2022

The Fountain of the Four Seasons by Christian Petersen, Iowa State’s artist-in-residence from 1934-55, has been an iconic landmark on campus for 80 years. The fountain and pool itself were donated by the VEISHEA committee in 1937 and the Maidens were added later in 1941. This beautiful fountain at the north entrance of the Memorial Union is cherished by students and campus visitors alike, typically being a popular spot for graduation photos, or a place to relax between classes. The President’s Office has commissioned a conservation project to place the original 1941 Maidens from the Fountain of the Four Seasons indoors and have a replica carved and placed in the fountain.

This conservation and replication project has been in the planning stages for multiple years, as an analysis of the condition of the fountain has been recorded and monitored during previous smaller scale treatments. Conservator Francis Miller’s 2020 report can be read online. This project will address multiple issues that have developed over the years including structural renewal, replacement of the fountain pool components and weathering of the Maidens after spending over 80 years outdoors.

Starting on Saturday November 12 through November 18, 2022, conservators will be dismantling the sculptures and the terra cotta between the hours of 8:00am and 5:00pm. The occasional noisy, dust producing activities are anticipated to be minimal.  Barricades will be used to protect the project area and keep visitors safe from the exposed pipes and wiring. Seating will not be available around the fountain until November 20 due to the barricades. The fountain pool will remain onsite; however, water will be turned off for the winter season starting on Monday November 7.

On Saturday November 19 between the hours of 8:00am and 5:00pm, the original Maidens will be craned out from the fountain to be taken to a Midwest carver in Indiana where the replicas will be sculpted. Barricades will be used to close off the sidewalk and east bound Union Drive for craning and loading activities. The barricade around the fountain will still allow a 3-foot-wide perimeter around the wall basin for pedestrian traffic. Please see photo  below showing proposed locations for barricades and road closures. During the project, temporary signage to inform visitors of the fountain’s status will be installed, weather permitting.

Once the replicas are completed, the original Maidens will return to campus and be placed in a building yet to be determined by University Museums. The replicas will also be installed onto the fountain. This project is estimated to be done by Fall 2023. However, the replicas will need to cure for 30 - 40 days upon installation. Due to this being close to the winter season, the fountain will not be turned on until Spring 2024.

Photo by Christopher Gannon

We know the news of this project will impact our campus community in different ways. We acknowledge it will greatly affect the aesthetic of our north entrance but this project will ensure that our treasured fountain lasts for years to come. Memorial Union director, Steve Winfrey, knows the importance of this conservation project.

“Since 1941, the Fountain of the Four Seasons has graced the north entrance of the Memorial Union. Since then, the fountain’s Maidens have watched over the thousands of students scurrying to class each day. During their absence, the Fountain of the Four Seasons will be held in many fond memories. Until then, our campus will grow fonder of their purpose and place within our hearts,” said Winfrey.

 

We appreciate your patience as we work with University Museums, Facilities, Planning and Management, and other stakeholders to complete this project. We are excited for the Maidens to be preserved as part of the Art on Campus program through University Museums, one of the largest campus public art programs in the United States.

For more information, check back on this website for updates or call Brad Hill at 515-294-2301. For information regarding the latest on the conservation project and the history of the Fountain of the Four Seasons, please check back on the University Museums website.

 

Fountain of the Four Seasons, 1941
Christian Petersen (Danish-American, 1885-1961)
Bedford limestone, terra cotta
Commissioned by Iowa State College. In the Christian Petersen Art Collection, Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. U88.69

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