Magical Modern Imagination Infuses Historic Plaster Cast Gallery With WHIMSY

Magical Modern Imagination Infuses Historic Plaster Cast Gallery with WHIMSY

Kinetic Sculpture by Mara Sfara New to Museums

In the Garden of Mount Olympus
Kinetic Sculpture by Mara Sfara
Opening June 21
The George Walter Vincent Smith Museum
The Springfield Museums

“Sfara’s kinetic sculpture is mesmerizing.”

—Kay Simpson, CEO and President of the Springfield Museums

Springfield (MA)—Please join the Springfield Museums Friday, July 21, to celebrate the acquisition of In the Gardens of Mount Olympus, a kinetic sculpture by Mara Sfara. The Museums also celebrate the reinstallation of the historic Plaster Cast Gallery in the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, where Sfara’s sculpture will find its new home.

In the Gardens of Mount Olympus envisions the Greek gods as something more, and less than heroic. Sfara depicts the gods whimsically, as individuals with personality quirks completely familiar to us mere mortals. Hemera, the goddess of the daytime, is captured in a dancing frenzy, mid shimmy. And Athena belligerently moons Zeus as he prepares to lob his thunderbolt into the scene.

Sfara’s sculptural characters have a unique and appealing style that invites wonder and creativity. She says her sculptures are “like characters in a play” and she invites viewers to concoct a story (or many stories) to tie all the characters together. Sfara wants everyone to participate in the adventure of myth-making while watching as the gods move through the theater space of Mount Olympus and its surrounding gardens and sea.

“I find Mara’s sculpture mesmerizing,” said Kay Simpson, the President and CEO of the Springfield Museums. The sculpture will be set up theater-style with bench seating to invite viewers to stay, watch, and imagine, Simpson said. “And I love to see it juxtaposed with the plaster casts depicting similar gods in the Classical heroic style.”

The historic Plaster Cast Gallery in the Springfield Museums is one of very few left. At one time, plaster casts of classic statues used to be ubiquitous in museums that also held classes in art or archeology. “Teachers used the casts as a wonderful resource for their students, a kind of three-dimensional textbook,” said Heather Haskell, Director of the Art Museums and Vice-President of the Springfield Museums. But in the 1970s and 80s as scholars began to actively work against what was considered a constrained ideal of beauty, the plaster casts were discarded in favor of more diverse depictions of humanity.

The Springfield Museums, however, held onto their collection which features replicas of sculpture from ancient and Renaissance masterpieces.

New interpretive labels help contextualize each cast as well as inform about the cast’s subject. “We want our visitors to really stop and engage with the art,” said Maggie North, Acting Curator of Art. “We want people to leave with more information than they had when they arrived and we hope they will be inspired, with their creativity sparked.”

Please visit the Springfield Museums to see our new acquisition In the Gardens of Mount Olympus, by Mara Sfara, and the newly reinstalled Plaster Cast Gallery with new interpretations, opening June 21 at the George Walter Vincent Smith Museum.

About the Artist

Mara Sfara creates engaging, multisensory art for audiences of all ages.


The Springfield Museums Museum School presents Painting Workshop: Energize Your Art with Mara Sfara; 10 am- 4 pm; Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, July 10, 11, 12 (three classes); $220, Members; $269, nonmembers. Adult.

About the Plaster Cast Gallery

Established in 1896, the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum houses the eclectic collection of George Walter Vincent Smith (1832-1923) and Belle Townsley Smith (1845-1928). In 1900, a collection of plaster casts was added to the museum’s holdings of American paintings, Chinese and Japanese decorative arts and Islamic arts. Today, the plaster cast collection is one of the largest extant collections of casts displayed the United States and features replicas of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture, as well as Italian Renaissance pieces., One Admission/Five Museums,

including the one and only Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum



About The Springfield Museums


SPRINGFIELD MUSEUMS are located on the Quadrangle at 21 Edwards Street in the heart of downtown Springfield, Massachusetts. The nationally accredited and Smithsonian-affiliated consortium of museums includes the Springfield Science Museum, the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History, the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, and The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum, the first and only museum dedicated to the beloved children’s book author and Springfield native.