A ROMAN GODDESS IS COMING TO THE BOSTON MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS
A Roman goddess is making Boston's Museum of Fine Arts her new home. A flatbed truck will pull up with the 13-foot-tall, almost two-millennia-old statue of Juno resting on her back in a steel cage—and without her head. (The museum decided decapitation would allow a more-secure move, since the head was precariously attached.) A crane will raise Juno 80 feet in the air and lower her into the museum through a skylight. Once the sculpture lands, movers will push it through a doorway expanded by 18 inches to accommodate Juno's girth and then use a chain hoist to lift her upright. The colossus will be the centerpiece of a new classical gallery. The museum calls Juno the largest classical sculpture in the U.S. and pursued the acquisition for five years before buying it last spring for a seven-figure sum largely funded by an anonymous donor.
The 13,000-pound marble statue was shipped from Rome to a wealthy Boston couple in the late 19th century and until recently lived on the manicured gardens of a historic property in Brookline, a western Boston suburb. Over the years, local youth, who nicknamed her "Gloria," occasionally splattered her with graffiti or involved her in college hazing rituals. Acid rain and violent weather also threatened her. Property caretaker Harry McCusker, who recalled forsythia blooming around her and coyote pups once playing at her feet, said the statue was a constant in his life. "It was almost like we bonded with each other—she might have even said good morning to me," he said.
Conservators will work on Juno in the gallery, in public view, starting early next month. Staff will ponder whether to position the head to allow greater eye contact with visitors; the statue is believed to have been part of a Roman civic monument, staring down from several stories up. The museum team also strongly suspects that this isn't the statue's original head and will test the marble to see whether it came from the same quarry as the torso.
Ms. Kondoleon first learned of the statue five years ago through a local scholar and discussed a possible purchase with the Brandegee Foundation, the private group that owns and manages the property on which Juno used to sit. A foundation spokesman declined to comment. Throughout, Ms. Kondoleon said, she was confident that Juno belonged at the Boston museum: "I knew her destiny."
A version of this article appeared Mar. 17, 2012, on page C14 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: A New Bostonian, Size XL, Age 1,900.
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