Public Outdoor Sculpture at Columbia
Columbia's public outdoor sculpture collection is managed by Art Properties, based in Avery Library. In the months to come, we will be releasing here a new webpage with detailed information about all of the public outdoor sculpture throughout the Columbia University schools and campuses. For more information about the public outdoor sculpture and all of the art collections owned by Columbia University, contact Art Properties.
If you think you've seen this sculpture before but you're not sure where, then you've walked the grounds of Columbia's Morningside Heights campus.
This public outdoor sculpture is one of the many works located throughout the Columbia University schools and campuses. The sculpture is The Great God Pan (accession number C00.825) by the American artist George Grey Barnard (1863-1938). The work shows the Greek god Pan in his usual form as half-man, half-goat, playing the pan pipes associated with him. As a fertility deity, he is often accompanied by fauns and nymphs, but here he is seen in solitude enjoying the music he plays. This sculpture was one of Barnard's first commissions upon returning from his artistic training in Paris. The Clark family commissioned the work from him in the mid-1890s for the Dakota apartment building on Central Park West.
When it was completed, however, the sculpture was considered inappropriate for that setting, possibly because of the figure's uninhibited nudity. The work was offered to the City of New York and briefly destined for Central Park, but eventually Edward Severin Clark donated it to Columbia for its newly developed Morningside campus.
In 1907 Charles Follen McKim installed the sculpture as a working fountain in a neo-Pompeiian grotto in the northeast corner of campus. Over time it was moved as new construction took place on campus, and currently it is located facing Lewisohn Hall. The bronze sculpture was cast by Henry-Bonnard Bronze Co., a foundry located in New York.
Barnard's career as a sculptor continued, but he became more famous for his collection of medieval architectural fragments and sculptures, which eventually became the foundation for The Cloisters Museum & Gardens at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.