For years, the Alma Mater sculpture has stood at the corner of Green and Wright streets welcoming students, faculty and visitors to campus. She is one of the campus’ most loved landmarks and in recent years has been the motherly voice to her fans on Facebook and followers on Twitter.
The granite base that holds the statue now stands empty as Alma and her companions, Learning and Labor, receive much-needed restoration. In 2010, the campus’ Preservation Working Group determined that the sculpture needed conservation based on the level of surface corrosion, cracks, water erosion and water penetration into the structure. The Alma sculpture was removed from its based on August 7th and transported to the Conservation of Sculpture and Objects Studio in Forest Park, Illinois. The preservation work is scheduled to be completed by May 2013 so she will be available for photos with new graduates.
The effort is funded by gifts from alumni and friends through the Chancellor's Fund – a campus-wide unrestricted fund that is used to support academic initiatives and campus beautification projects. The 83-year-old bronze sculpture which was crafted by Illinois alumnus Lorado Taft was a gift from alumni and students. It seems only fitting that a new generation of contributors is helping to preserve Alma for current and future generations of Illini.
Even though Alma is away, she will continue to share updates on her progress. “Like” her on Facebook and “Follow” her on Twitter for the latest information.