Stone sculptures returned to KU Natural History Museum building

Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 9:32 PM CDT
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LAWRENCE, Kan. (KCTV) -- Some new faces are settling in on the KU campus -- stone sculptures restored to their home at the top of the university’s Natural History Museum.

As part of a renovation project at the building, erected in 1902, the university retired eight grotesques that had been severely damaged by more than a century of Kansas weather. In 2018 a team of artists and students began the process of recreating them.

Lori Schlenker, the museum’s assistant director of collections and facilities, said the campus conducted a nationwide search for a sculptor up to the task. They found two local artists, Laura and Karl Ramberg, who had grown up walking by the building regularly.

A team of students and faculty assisted on the project, too. The university used 3D scanning to create designs that matched the originals as accurately as possible.

“Both the sculpting and the scanning involved KU students, which was satisfying,” Schlenker said.

This week the Rambergs oversaw the installation of the finished grotesques. Cranes hoisted the new statues 60 ft. to the roof line to carefully place them before tuckpointing around the menagerie of stone animals and mythical beasts. Karl described the experience as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“It was 600 pounds just floating in the air,” he said. “They brought them over, brought them right into place.”

The old statues, originally crafted by Joseph Roblado Frazee, are now on display on the 6th floor of the museum.

“It didn’t feel the same without them,” Schlenker said. “We’re glad to have them back.”