Monday, April 1, 2024

Mount Rushmore

The Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a colossal sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore (Lakota: Tȟuŋkášila Šákpe, or Six Grandfathers) in the Black Hills near Keystone, South Dakota, United States.

Sculptor Gutzon Borglum designed the sculpture, called Shrine of Democracy, and oversaw the project's execution from 1927 to 1941 with the help of his son, Lincoln. The sculpture features the 60-foot-tall (18 m) heads of four United States presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, chosen to represent the nation's birth, growth, development, and preservation, respectively.

Mount Rushmore (Six Grandfathers) before construction, c.1905

The sculpture at Mount Rushmore is built on land that was illegally taken from the Sioux Nation in the 1870s. The Sioux continue to demand return of the land, and in 1980 the US Supreme Court ruled that the taking of the Black Hills required just compensation, and awarded the tribe $102 million. 

The Sioux have refused the money, which has grown with interest to over a billion dollars and demand the return of the land. This conflict continues, leading some critics of the monument to refer to it as a "Shrine of Hypocrisy".

Almost a century later, the granite face of the monument is suffering badly from erosion, caused by the small fissures that were accidentally created during construction of the monument that overtime collected acid rain.

The original remedy to cover the faces with a transparent synthetic  resin was abandoned for environmental reasons and, looking for alternatives, Basque sculptor Iñaki Perurena (well known for the Peru Harri Sculpture Park in Leitza), came up with the idea to cover the complete sculpture by one giant txapeldun beret. 

The idea originated from the park's shelters and proved to give excellent protection in every respect from the elements. Funding dependent, work should start by April next year. 


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