It’s still several months away, but the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre is already planning a celebration for the long-awaited return of the Begging Bear.
The bronze sculpture was knocked from its position by the bus stop in front of the art gallery in March. It had to be removed for repairs, but it will be officially welcomed back to its rightful spot in a reinstallation ceremony on Oct. 1, a news release said.
“The unveiling will be impressive,” said art centre director Judith Nasby in the release. “The sculpture suffered deep scratches and bruising of the bronze, but it will emerge looking refreshed.”
The bear, which was created by sculpture Carl Skelton and installed at the art centre in 1999, is currently undergoing restoration at Artcast in Georgetown. The company will be using steel pins to stabilize the 350-pound sculpture, which will eventually stand on a two-inch-high bronze platform attached to a concrete base buried four feet in the ground, the release said.
To help pay for the repairs, the art centre has launched a fundraising campaign – “Share Your Care for Our Bear.” Donations can be made by cheque or credit card at the gallery.
The bear, which could often be seen decorated or dressed up, had become a Guelph icon. It was missed as soon as it was removed, said gallery co-ordinator of education and development Aidan Ware in the release.
“People cared enough to write to local papers and email us asking after the bear,” she said. “A suggestion was made that the bear be moved to a less accessible position, but it’s wonderful to keep him where he was, where he can continue to engage with the public.”
The bear-raising ceremony will be the highlight of Culture Days events at the gallery, which will also include the creation of a “human quilt” and a late-night lantern tour of the sculpture park and grounds.
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