Sculpture outside Beach Museum of Art destroyed by vandals

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A sculpture from the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art outdoor gallery called
“Scholar’s Rock” was destroyed last week.

The sculpture was discovered by museum staff on Sept. 11 with various parts of the work removed and rearranged, leaving the structure only partially standing. Stones had not only been removed but were stacked and repositioned to resemble a peace sign.

Campus police are currently investigating the case in hopes of understanding why the vandalism took place. 

“Right now we don’t have any suspects,” said Capt. Don Stubbings of the K-State Police Department. “There are no leads, so it’s hard to continue an investigation when there’s limited information. We’re encouraging students to come forward anonymously if they have any information pertaining to the event.”

Scholar’s
Rock was created in the fall of 2009 by Vermont artist Dan
Snow with the assistance of K-State landscape architecture and regional and community planning students. For the past three years, the rock has been located on the north lawn of the museum.

Snow, a dry stone mason, crafted Scholar’s Rock using an ancient technique that allowed
him to build a solid structure without the use of mortar. Structures created with this method stand because they are crafted from stones that fit together snugly and sturdily.

The museum is suffering from the loss of the exhibit. 

“I really feel whoever destroyed it probably had no understanding of what they were damaging,” said Linda Duke, director of the Beach Museum of Art. “It was a positive, gentle gift to the community, and it’s too bad that it was so carelessly destroyed.”

Regarding the future of the sculpture, Duke said that Scholar’s Rock will most likely never be restored to its original state. 

“Works of art are always very fragile,” Duke said. “This was a certain moment in time when a group of people came together, and I think it’s gone. To pretend that we could reconstruct it would be very artificial.” 

Duke added, however, that she has high hopes for turning what is left of the structure into a new exhibit, featuring plant species indigenous to Kansas that would complement the remaining limestone.

Stubbings said K-State police don’t often have to respond to cases such as this on campus. 

“It’s
not a common occurrence,” Stubbings said. “We have great students here with great
values, so this is something we don’t see on campus. Sometimes we have
vandalism, and sometimes it’s unintended. But when we do have cases like this,
we want to investigate it as thoroughly as possible.”

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