News Service


Marilyn Vaughan, University Museums, (515) 294-6469
Steve Sullivan, News Service, (515) 294-3720


AMES, Iowa -- After a nearly two-year absence, the Fountain of the Four Seasons, a widely recognized Iowa State University symbol, will return to its spot in front of the Memorial Union on Tuesday, March 31.

A crew from Conservation Technical Associates of Connecticut will use a crane and heavy equipment to lift the fountain's four Native American women into their places around the perimeter of the fountain. The sculptures, made in 1941 by Christian Petersen, are the focal point of the fountain.

The sculptures were removed in May 1996 to remove built-up salt, mineral deposits and bacterial growth and to repair cracks and other damage. The funds for the $250,000 project came primarily from private donations. The ISU classes of 1946, 1947, 1948 and 1998 each financed the conservation of a sculpture.

Workers will install the sculptures, then mortar the fountain's terra cotta (baked clay) ring, a process that will take two days. The fountain then will be covered with plastic, which will remain until mid-April when the water filtration and softening system becomes operational.

While on the East Coast, the statues soaked in a restorative bath to release years of accumulated grime. The conservators chose to use chemicals to remove the deposits because it was the safest method and the least likely to damage the limestone, said Lynette Pohlman, director of University Museums, which oversees conservation of campus works of art. During that time, the fountain basin in Ames received new stainless steel plumbing to prevent deposits from forming again, she said.

Petersen was sculptor-in-residence at Iowa State from 1934 until 1955. The Fountain of the Four Seasons is one of his best-known sculptures. The Osage women represent the four seasons and the relationship of the earth's fertility to human life.

"Over the years students have come to see the maidens as symbolic of their four years of undergraduate education," Pohlman said.

In addition to the Fountain of the Four Seasons, Petersen made 11 other major public works of art that dot the Iowa State campus. They include The Gentle Doctor in the Scheman Building, the Veterinary Medicine Mural at the College of Veterinary Medicine and statues of male and female college students in Parks Library.

The fountain will be rededicated 2 p.m. Saturday, June 6, as part of Alumni Days.


NOTE TO MEDIA: The exact times of the installation depend on the weather and temperature. Rain or freezing weather may cause delays. For updates, call Marilyn Vaughan at (515) 294-6469. The project manager, Linda Merk-Gould, will request media to keep a specified distance from the equipment to prevent accidents and ensure their safety.

Iowa State homepage

University Relations,
Copyright © 1997, Iowa State University, all rights reserved
Revised 3/26/98