Several pieces damaged during August 2020 derecho storm

Saving the Outdoor Statuary

April 8th, 2021

An essential part of the Brucemore collection is the statuary scattered outdoors across the estate’s 26 acre cultural landscape. As the second family to call Brucemore home, the Douglases, expanded the grounds and added buildings and landscape features, they also selected and incorporated pieces of statuary to accentuate the beauty of the estate.

The derecho storm that devastated Cedar Rapids on August 10, 2020 most visibly caused damage to the tree canopy and buildings at Brucemore, but also significantly impacted the outdoor statuary. Following the storm, staff assessed the damage to these irreplaceable pieces and several pieces were moved into alternate locations or storage until they can be conserved. 

“We use the phrase ‘outdoor statuary’ to encompass a variety of objects on the grounds, including everything from the statues to the plaques in the pet cemetery,” said Museum Program Manager Melissa Porter. “These objects include one-of-a-kind pieces – the historic artwork, gates, and structures specific to Brucemore.”

During the storm, several outdoor pieces were hit by tree debris, including multiple sculptures and the metal gates at the Linden Drive and First Avenue entrances. Other pieces not directly damaged by the derecho were exposed to new risks.

“While cleaning debris from the estate, we have had to be especially careful as vehicles have needed to drive off paved surfaces, and many pieces were hidden amongst the debris,” said Porter. Where possible, statuary was carefully moved indoors. Pieces that could not be moved were protected in other ways. For instance, large crates were custom made to protect the 1927 pond urns which were surrounded by broken and fallen trees.

One piece damaged in the storm that is especially significant to Brucemore is Dancing Children. Irene Douglas, who lived at Brucemore from 1906-1937, commissioned Bashka Paeff to create the sculpture.  The Cedar Rapids Republican published that Ms. Paeff spent multiple weeks at Brucemore. She also instructed Irene’s oldest daughter, Margaret, on sculpting. During the derecho, a tree landed on top of the signed work and dented it. The work of art was carefully moved to a safe indoor location to allow the fallen tree to be removed.

“After we took initial steps to protect the statuary, we reached out to a conservator to perform an assement and create a treatment plan,” said Porter. “The Minnesota-based conservator had hoped to visit Cedar Rapids to do the assessment in person, but a spike in COVID-19 cases required staff to adapt, using video chat, detailed photographs, and measurements to allow the consverator to develop a plan of action.”

Staff are working on gathering asssesments and estimates for conservation of these pieces, as well as working with insurance and other emergency funding to determine what may be covered. Conservation efforts ultimately will be dependent on funding, and are expected to take several months. A small silver lining resulting from the distater is the opportunity to closely examine these unique works that help define Brucemore’s landscape. Porter said, “The closer you look at any piece of art, the more you can appreciate it.”

Preserving and interpreting the outdoor statuary today provides a connection to the people who previously lived at Brucemore. These pieces reflect their tastes and reveal their personal stories. Conserving them and returning them to the landscape is an integral component of the recovery process. 

General

Do I need to pay to enter the estate and walk on the grounds?

No. Visiting the Brucemore estate during grounds hours is free. Tickets are only required for scheduled tours and events, and they can be purchased in advance online.

Is a reservation needed to visit Brucemore?

You do not need a reservation to visit the grounds on your own. You do need a ticket to go inside the mansion. We recommend purchasing tickets in advance online or by calling 319-362-7375 for any of our mansion tours or other scheduled special themed tours due to limited capacity. Please visit our calendar to see upcoming opportunities and to purchase your tickets.

Touring the Mansion

Can I take pictures inside the mansion?

Yes. Photography is allowed during tours for personal, non-professional use. Tripods, selfie-sticks, or other photography equipment will not be permitted. Photographs should not distract from others’ enjoyment.

How large is the mansion?

Brucemore is approximately 15,000 square feet.

How many fireplaces, rooms, and floors does Brucemore have?

There are 21 “main” rooms, 14 fireplaces and four floors plus an attic.

Is all of the furniture original to the house and families?

Much of the furniture you will see on display belonged to the second or third families to live at Brucemore; however, some pieces had to be replaced with replicas or similar antiques.

Is the mansion handicap accessible?

The Brucemore mansion includes multiple floors and several staircases. Because of the historic architecture, some spaces are not accessible. Due to preservation work, the wheelchair lift that offers accessibility to the first floor is not available at this time. An elevator is not available from the first floor to the other floors at any time. Learn more about accessibility at Brucemore.

Group and School Tours

Is there an age requirement for students visiting Brucemore?

You do not have to be a certain age to visit or attend a program at Brucemore. Different programs are best suited for different ages. Tours of the mansion are recommended for 4th grade students and older.

Where do we park?

Parking is available on site a short walk from the mansion or carriage house. Buses must follow special instructions. Large events may not be able to accommodate on-site parking; please see the event calendar information for exceptions.

Is bus parking available?

Yes. Bus parking is available near the carriage house. Buses must arrive via special directions as they are unable to fit in our historic gates.

Is there a lunch area at Brucemore?

There are a couple of small picnic tables in the orchard and Adirondack chairs in pairs across the property to utilize during the warmer months. You are also welcome to bring your own blanket or chair to picnic on the grounds. Please carry out any trash to help our small staff keep the grounds beautiful.

Does my group have to arrive together?

Your group does not have to arrive together, however, parking on site is limited.

What is your payment policy?

Brucemore admission for group tours is often requested to be paid prior to the visit and a deposit may be required. Payment can be made by cash, check, or credit card and should be paid in one sum.

Do I need to make an appointment to tour the mansion?

You must have a ticket to a tour or program inside the mansion. Many tours do sell out in advance; purchase online or by calling 319-362-7375 in advance of your visit to guarantee your spot. See the schedule here.

Is the mansion wheelchair accessible?

The mansion is not currently accessible to wheelchairs due to preservation work. The mansion includes multiple flights of stairs. Most of the outdoor areas of the site are accessible. See our full accessibility information and contact us with additional questions regarding your visit.

Can I walk on the property?

Yes, the grounds and gardens are open daily most of the year. Several self-guided interpretive panels are available. See hours here.

What is Brucemore’s ticket policy?

Tickets are non-refundable, but may be rescheduled for comparable programs as space allows. Learn more.

I’m attending a large event at Brucemore. Where do I park?

Large events may require you to park offsite. Please read the event details on the calendar for specific information for each event.

Are weapons allowed at Brucemore?

We prohibit weapons on the property and at programs to ensure the safety and security of all employees and people visiting Brucemore.