Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
May 24, 1996

Union fountain moved for repairs

by Steve Sullivan
"Fountain of the Four Seasons," the Christian Petersen sculpture in front of the Memorial Union, will be removed for at least a year for repairs and conservation work.

Linda Merk-Gould, an art conservator from Westport, Conn., removed the sculpture's four Native American women and the terra cotta ring they surround this week. Merk-Gould will take the sculptures to her Connecticut studios, where she will remove built-up salt, minerals and bacterial growth, and repair cracks and other damage.

Merk-Gould also will do repair work on the fountain's pool. A new plumbing system for the fountain will be installed later this year.

The fountain will not be in operation while work is done on the pool. It will be turned back on this summer and then turned off again in the fall when the plumbing work begins.

Merk-Gould has done conservation work on Petersen works at the Dairy Industry Building and the College of Veterinary Medicine. She recently worked on the Statue of Freedom at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

The total cost of the project is approximately $200,000, most of which will come from private contributions. The ISU Class of 1946 is funding conservation of one of the Native American women statues.

Petersen, artist-in-residence at Iowa State from 1934 to 1955, created the "Fountain of the Four Seasons" in 1941. A previous fountain was a vertical water spout with a reflecting pool. Student pranksters were known for perching toilet seats on the fountainhead at night. Former ISU President Charles Friley asked Petersen to create "something beautiful" that students would not want to make a joke out of.

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