(ODD)yssey, Blog Post

The story behind the ‘Bombed Thinker’ statue on display outside this museum

One of the oddities I wanted to visit when Sweetums and I visited Cleveland, Ohio, last summer is a little something known as “the Bombed Thinker.” How could you not want to visit a statue with a name like that?

I’d seen the story of this replica of Rodin’s “The Thinker” on one of the travel shows and thought it was interesting the Cleveland Museum chose to preserve the statue in its bombed state. Here’s the story behind it:

In March 1970, a radical group believed to be protesting “the continuing military action in Vietnam or the elitism of the American government,” lit a bomb beneath the statue’s pedestal, according to the museum’s website.

“No one was injured in the subsequent blast, but the statue’s base and lower legs were destroyed. The remaining sections of the cast were blown backward to form a ‘plume’ at the base, and the entire statue was knocked to the ground,” the website said.

The replica had been cast by Alexis Rudier under “direct supervision” from Rodin, who created the original concept in 1880 and began casting bronze statues of the design in 1904. The replica was commissioned by Ralph King of Cleveland, who donated it to the museum in 1917.

No one was ever arrested for the bombing. Museum officials considered re-casting the work, as well as re-casting damaged parts to restore the original, which posed challenges because some elements were distorted by the blast. They eventually settled on leaving the statue in its damaged state.

This option “was chosen largely because it preserved what was left of Rodin’s original work and because the damaged sculpture would bear vivid witness to a period of political unrest in the United States during the Vietnam War,” the website says.

Check out Sweetums’ pics of the Bombed Thinker, plus a few other interesting displays we saw in Cleveland:

bombed thinker 2
The Bombed Thinker at the Cleveland Museum in Ohio. (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
bombed thinker
The Bombed Thinker at the Cleveland Museum in Ohio. (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
WL chandelier 2
World’s Largest Outdoor Chandelier in Cleveland’s Theatre District. (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
WL chandelier 3
World’s Largest Outdoor Chandelier in Cleveland’s Theatre District. (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
WL chandelier 4
World’s Largest Outdoor Chandelier in Cleveland’s Theatre District. (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
WL chandelier
World’s Largest Outdoor Chandelier in Cleveland’s Theatre District. (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
long live rock
Kelly outside the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
cleveland sign
Sweetums and Kelly on the Cleveland waterfront.
malleys silos
Fun silos at Malley’s Chocolate Factory in Cleveland. Their candies were yummy! (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
World's Largest Rubber Stamp Cleveland Ohio
Kelly at the World’s Largest Rubber Stamp Cleveland. (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
fire memorial 2
A funky memorial erected in 2007 to Cleveland’s lost firefighters. The website for the fundraising group says it is, “a colorful fiberglass statue of two fire fighters putting out large flames created by nationally acclaimed sculptor Luis Jimenez. The names of the 77 fire fighters who made the ultimate sacrifice are engraved in the granite base under the statue.” (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
fire memorial 3
Firefighters Memorial in Cleveland. (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
fire memorial
Firefighters Memorial in Cleveland. (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)

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