Media Contact: Jan Wenzel, 874-2116
URI offers an independent head to
R. I. Treasures Exhibition
KINGSTON, R.I. -- May 5, 2003 -- The University of Rhode Island is pleased to be a part of the upcoming "Rhode Island Treasures Exhibition" to be mounted at the Rhode Island Convention Center from May 10 through June 15. More than 100 historical artifacts from many prestigious institutional lenders across the State will be on temporary exhibition loan, including the bronze "Head of the Independent Man" from the collections of URI. For more information on this special exhibition, "350 Years in the Making," call 1-800-562-9895 or visit www.ritreasures.com.
The "Independent Man" sculpture was designed in 1899 by New York sculptor George Brewster and symbolizes the independent spirit that led Roger Williams to settle in Rhode Island. Standing atop the dome of the Rhode Island State House, the gold-covered, bronze statue weighs more than 500 pounds and stands 11 feet high. The tip of the spear he is holding reaches 14 feet. The figure is visible from near and far and it has come to symbolize the State of Rhode Island itself.
In 1975, the statue was removed from the State House dome, as part of a conservation effort spearheaded by the Rhode Island Bicentennial Commission. It was taken to The Paul King Foundry in Johnston to have structural and surface restoration work performed. To help offset the costs of the restoration project, a new bronze cast of the statue's head was created and used as a raffle prize.
In 2000, the Lavin Family of Narragansett donated their bronze cast of the "Head of the Independent Man" to the University of Rhode Island. The generous donation was made in memory of John J. Lavin (1971-1978). The sculpture usually resides in the lobby of Fine Arts Center on URIs Kingston campus. The Fine Arts Center Galleries have helped manage the loan of the sculpture to this broad-based historical exhibition.