Stone sculptures returned to KU Natural History Museum building

By Nathan Vickers

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LAWRENCE, Kansas (KCTV) – New faces are taking up residence on the KU campus – restored stone sculptures in their home atop the university’s Natural History Museum.

As part of a renovation project for the building, erected in 1902, the university removed eight grotesques that had been badly 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 to find a sculptor up to the task. They found two local artists, Laura and Karl Ramberg, who had grown up walking regularly in front of the building.

A team of students and professors also took part in the project. The university used 3D scanning to create designs that matched the originals as closely as possible.

“The sculpting and digitizing involved KU students, which was satisfying,” Schlenker said.

This week, the Rambergs oversaw the installation of the completed grotesques. Cranes hoisted the new statues 60 feet from the roofline to carefully place them before pointing them around the menagerie of stone animals and mythical beasts. Karl described the experience as a unique opportunity.

“It was 600 pounds floating in the air,” he said. “They brought them in, set them up.”

The ancient statues, originally designed by Joseph Roblado Frazee, are now displayed on the 6th floor of the museum.

“It wasn’t the same without them,” Schlenker said. “We are happy to have them back.”

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