Restorations of the “Awakening” Sculpture Underway and Expected to be Complete in Four Weeks

Courtesy of Grace Kennard

In the coming weeks the Awakening sculpture at The Riley Ellipse will be undergoing maintenance and repairs. The sculpture has already been behind construction fences for nearly two weeks.

The repairs being done to “Awakening” have to do with the materials and the structure of the sculpture, according to the University’s Horticultural Supervisor Hugh Weldon.

“There are multiple cracks in several of the white travertine stones that need to be repaired,” Weldon said. “There is also a slight lean in the two travertine stones closest to Connolly Center that will need to be removed and new deeper bolts put in to help keep them stable.”

The repairs will also include cleaning and polishing both types of stone on the Awakening sculpture. After the repairs are finished, Weldon says the sculpture will have no visible changes.

“When the two stones are returned, they will be put back the exact location and facing the same way with no visible changes,” Weldon said. “During the restoration all the pieces will be cleaned and polished including the large black marble center piece.”

The restoration project is expected to be finished in about four weeks from the time maintenance begins. At the time of press, maintenance and repairs have not begun to the sculpture. The fences surrounding The Awakening will be up until all repairs and maintenance are finalized.

“Once the project gets started, it should only take approximately four weeks to complete,” Weldon said. “For safety reasons, the fences need to stay up during the entire project and removed as soon as it is complete.”

The Awakening has previously received prominent maintenance and repairs in 1988, 1998 and 2012.

According to Falvey Memorial Library, the 1988 repairs were due to vandalism after the University’s loss to Oklahoma in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in March of that year. One of the white pylons was damaged and had to be replaced with a properly weathered pylon to the match the others.

The 2012 maintenance and repairs were performed after the relocation of the Awakening from outside the Connelly Center to its current location at base of the Ellipse.

“Awakening” was also vandalized on March 17, 1990 with the phrase “DKE 90” being painted onto it, according to Falvey Memorial Library. Extensive repairs were not required following this instance of vandalism.

Awakening was designed by Jay Dugan and was installed outside of the Connelly Center on May 5, 1985. Dugan came up with the name for the sculpture after being inspired by the University.

“I chose the subject of an ‘Awakening’ for the University because a school is an environment where the students are learning and awakening to limitless conditions and fragments of knowledge,” Dugan said.

Dugan is also responsible for designing the sculpture Cosmos, which is structurally similar to the Awakening sculpture. Cosmos is located near Belle Air Terrace in the Connelly Center.

The sculpture has received the nickname of “The Oreo” due to the black and white stones’ resemblance to the popular cookie.

The sculpture was removed from its location outside of the Connelly Center and moved to the Ellipse as part of Phase I of the University’s transformation of the campus landscape project in 2011.

Since its installation, the sculpture remained a prominent part of culture of the University. The “Awakening” sculpture is frequently featured in several logos, advertising and merchandise pertaining to the University.

According to Weldon, there are no other planned restoration projects for other campus sculptures or statues. Repairs to “Awakening” are expected to be completed within the next month.