Minerva holding a broomstick
Academy building’s ornaments are lost
Construction manager René Bosscher, who works on the RUG’s historic buildings, discovered the ornaments were lost when he was inspecting the building façade. Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom and patron of science, was no longer holding a spear in her hand, but a broomstick. ‘Someone had attached a bent piece of metal that they’d spray painted gold.’
It was supposed to be a temporary solution; during renovation activities somewhere around the year 2000, workers discovered a hole in Minerva’s hand. The spear that she was supposed to be holding had disappeared. ‘The concierges decided to fix it with a broomstick’, says Bosscher. ‘A contractor installed it.’
When UKrant joined Arjen Dijkstra, head of the university museum, on the scaffolding in front of the building, we found out more objects were missing. Mathematica, located on the building’s right wing, was missing her compass. Historia, next to the attic window, had lost her goose feather quill. Scientia, on the other side of window, was still holding a torch, ‘but the original stone torch has been replaced by one made of iron’.
Bosscher suspects the objects were taken from the building to be restored, but that they got lost. He wants to try and have replicas forged, but they won’t be ready before the scaffolding in front of the building comes down. ‘The forge won’t have time to recreate all the pieces before then; they need to do a lot of research into the exact details, the materials uses, and the measurements’, Bosscher says.
A smith will be coming in to take measurements and come up with a quote. ’We can always decide later if we want to replace the objects. Maybe we can put them up using a cherry picker’, says Bosscher. ‘But we can’t make any decisions right now.’
It also turns out that the university’s coat of arms has been the wrong colour for years. Painters had previously painted the green areas, which represent the Ommelanden surrounding Groningen, blue.
What’s hiding behind the scaffolding sheets? On Tuesday, UKrant.nl will publish an extensive article on the statues and ornaments adorning the Academy building.
Translation by Sarah van Steenderen