The goddess of wisdom is once again reigning over the campus of Sam Houston State University.

A plaster copy of the Greek deity, Athena, a gift from the university's Class of 1912, has been restored to its former grandeur and now looms majestically over the reading room of SHSU's historic Peabody Library.

The restoration, lovingly undertaken by sculptor Monica Taylor (above right), was spearheaded by the art department's Jane Bartee (above left), who rallied communitywide support for the project.

Originally erected in 1922, in an alcove of the Old Main auditorium, the statue was later moved, in 1928, into Estill Library's reading room, where it peered over the shoulders of studious patrons from the room's western wall. Years later, the goddess, after suffering a few debilitating injuries, was moved into an art studio on Estill's third floor. There, for many years, the ancient icon posed silently as art students rendered its likeness again and again in pencil, charcoal and paint.

Eventually the statue was placed into storage where it remained until rediscovered, when the art department moved out of the Estill Building.

The statue is a copy of the original marble artwork which stands today in the Vatican. That statue was commissioned by an Italian family as a copy of the Greek statue which no longer exists.

In researching the project, Taylor, a Huntsville artist and SHSU graduate, traveled to Pittsburgh, Penn. to examine another plaster copy on exhibit at the Carnegie Museum.

The restored statue was unveiled in a special ceremony held Sept. 11 at the Peabody Library. Funding for the project was provided by the Peabody Foundation, the Huntsville Arts Commission, the Walker County Historical Society, and the SHSU art department.


Media Contact: Phillip Rollfing

Sept. 15, 1997