Popular Pachyderm Sculptures Moved from Zoo to Dramatic New Location

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by David C. Barnett

An iconic piece of Northeast Ohio sculpture is returning to public view after spending eight years in storage.  This stone illustration of prehistoric pachyderms was originally created for the Cleveland Zoo by legendary artist, inventor, and teacher Viktor Schreckengost .  The familiar work was disassembled, cleaned, and has now found a new home at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.  

Venturing onto the construction site, we see that workers from Cleveland Marble & Mosaic are securing the first part of an 88-piece, 32-ton jigsaw puzzle, which is about to be hoisted by a crane and affixed to a massive concrete wall behind the Museum of Natural History.

Cleveland Marble's Bob Zavagno says the challenge of this job... is its sheer size.

"We weighed each one of these pieces to make sure that it would work with the concrete," he says,  "and we did the engineering to do the clips that are holding it up.  We rebuilt it once in the warehouse and then we took it apart and now we're building it again on the wall." 

The terra cotta tableau consists of four animals --- a mammoth, a mastodon and their respective children. For 52 years they graced the entrance to the Cleveland Zoo's pachyderm building.  When the zoo redesigned that facility, the sculpture was removed and put into storage.  Natural History Museum CEO Evalyn Gates says the iconic animals are now on long-term long to the museum, and she thinks it's a great fit.

"It represents our natural history --- the mammoths and mastodons that literally walked across Ohio," she says.  "It represents the art of the Institute of Art where 
Schreckengost was on faculty.  To me it was that perfect showpiece that would be public art, but at the same time, a placemaker."

Reassembly is due to be completed in about 12 weeks.  Plans are in the works for an official dedication, later this year.

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