INSIDE IOWA STATE
April 27, 2001
Petersen sculpture tapped for Smithsonian
by Debra Gibson
Persistent campus art administrators who shucked the notion that a
vintage Christian Petersen sculpture had gone to seed will soon celebrate
that creation's new roots.
A bronze casting of Petersen's "Cornhusker" will be presented to the
Smithsonian American Art Museum May 1, at an evening reception in the
Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C. Nearly 400 people are
expected to attend, including Gregory Geoffroy, ISU's next president. The
gift from the university and University Museums culminates ISU's ongoing
campaign to gain national recog-nition for the late sculptor and his
For more than 20 years, museums director Lynette Pohlman has been
championing the career of Christian Petersen, who worked for 21 years on the
Iowa State campus as its (and the nation's) first college artist-
in-residence. Under Pohlman's guidance, the museum staff tracked down and
preserved Petersen's creations, which include 12 major public works of art,
more than 500 studio sculptures and 700 drawings.
In their pursuit of his works, the museum staff learned of two sculptures
created by Petersen in the early 1940s for the Hotel Sheldon Munn in Ames.
After a lengthy search, the two works, "Cornhusker" and "4-H Calf," were
discovered in storage at the Kirkwood Hotel in Des Moines. The Kirkwood
owners then donated the pieces to ISU.
"Cornhusker" emanated from sketches Petersen drew of Marion Link, a young
Story County farmer, as he won a local cornhusking competition. (Link, now
deceased, will be represented by several relatives at the D.C.
Once "Cornhusker" was chosen by the Smithsonian, two bronze castings were
created in its likeness. One casting will be presented to the Smithsonian,
where it will be placed in storage until the museum's renovation is
completed, probably in 2004. The other will remain in ISU's permanent
Local residents can celebrate the success of "Cornhusker" at a free
reception at the Brunnier Art Museum on Sunday, April 29, beginning at 1
p.m. ISU's bronze casting of the sculpture will be on display through Aug.
Ames, Iowa 50011, (515) 294-4111
Published by: University Relations,
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