Minerva’s broomstick at University Museum

Minerva’s broomstick at University Museum

It turns out that the spear-toting Minerva statue on the Academy building’s façade has actually been brandishing a broomstick. On Saturday, the Day of Groningen History, the broomstick will be on display in the University Museum.
By Giulia Fabrizi / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen
9 October om 11:52 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:17 uur.
October 9 at 11:52 AM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:17 PM.

Mathematica was missing her compass, Historia had lost her quill, and Minerva was handed a broomstick instead of her spear. When construction manager René Bosscher, who oversees the RUG’s historical buildings, inspected the Academy building’s façade, he was shocked to discover that several of the sandstone statues were missing their original ornaments.

‘But it is a great story that people will still be telling in a hundred years’, says Arjen Dijkstra, head of the University Museum. During an earlier renovation in 2000, the workers discovered a hole in Minerva’s hand. The concierges supplied a broomstick that would stand in for her spear for the next two decades.

Gold leaf

‘It’s an interesting story – the object is great for our collection’, Dijkstra explains. He had the broomstick removed from the Greek goddess’ hand. ‘When we took a closer look it turned out that the piece of bent metal they used for a spear point wasn’t spray painted, but covered in actual gold leaf.’

Dijkstra says the broomstick is a part of university history now, so it only makes sense for the University Museum to put the broomstick in its permanent collection. But before it can become a permanent artefact in the collection, they will have to clean it up first. ‘It’s decaying some and it’s a bit mouldy. If we want to keep it, we have to fix it up first.’


But people will have a chance to get a look at it first. ‘People think it’s fascinating. We’ve already shown the broomstick several times before’, says Dijkstra. On Saturday, the Day of Groningen History, the broomstick will be displayed in the University Museum.

In the meantime, the statues on the Academy building’s façade are empty-handed. Dijkstra says they’re still looking for a solution for the missing ornaments. ‘We don’t know yet how or when the missing parts will be replaced.’



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