The Duckling Statue Celebrates its 25th Birthday

We’re having a big birthday bash this year for Nancy Shön’s Make Way for Ducklings statue! The event is completely free and will take place Saturday, September 29th from 10am – 1pm in the Public Garden. The party includes a variety of games and activities for families and people of all ages, including music, magic and juggling. Children may create their own birthday card to wish Mrs. Mallard and her ducklings a happy and healthy year. There will also be a special reading of the delightful story.

One fine day in 1985, Nancy Schön was called upon to create a bronze statue inspired by the Robert McCloskey classic, Make Way for Ducklings. In some ways the journey of this bronze tribute to the Mallard family mirrors the ducklings journey from the Charles River to the Public Garden in the book. Instead of facing the Charles River and busy streets, Shön spent two years working through several sponsorship obstacles  before her statue could call the Public Garden home. With a little work and a lot of determination the statue was finally installed on September 29th. It’s hard to believe it has already been 25 years since the sculpture found it’s way into our hearts. It seems like just yesterday Mrs. Mallard and her eight young ducklings swam across the Charles River to a busy highway where Officer Michael stopped the cars and let the ducks walk on through to Mt. Vernon Street.

25 years later, the ducks still reside in the Public Garden. If you’re lucky, you may be able to still catch them eating peanuts!

Nancy Schön’s Ducklings

The duckling statues of the Boston Public Garden, photo taken from Schön’s website

Now that Duckling Day is over and the beloved story that inspired it remains fresh in our minds it is worthwhile to think about the woman who so vividly brought McCloskey’s unforgettable illustrations to life by creating the bronze sculptures of Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, Quack and Mrs. Mallard that continue to delight children and adults alike in the Boston Public Garden. It is said that the ducklings have never lost their shine despite never being professionally polished because of the thousands of children who come to play on them each year.

The lazy hare awaits marathon runners in Copley Plaza, photo taken from Schön’s website

The master-mind behind the statues’ design is Nancy Schön, a graduate of Boston’s Museum School who is well-known for her approachable sculptures. Schön has always had an inclination for making sculptures that are not only visually stunning, but fashioned to be interactive so that even the smallest child can find joy in the bronze statues that grace many of Boston’s neighborhoods.

Eeyore and Pooh Bear outside Newton Free Library, photo taken from Schön’s website

Perhaps you have seen the tortoise and hare that greet Boston Marathon runners at the finish line in Copley Square or the friendly dragon on Nonquit Street that protects the people of Dorchester. There is even a sad donkey waiting for his friend Pooh Bear outside Newton Free Library. Maybe, just maybe, you’ve seen the only replica of the Public Garden’s duckling statues in the world located in Novodevichy Park, Moscow, installed as a gift from First Lady Laura Bush to First Lady Raisa Gorbachev during the signing of START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) in 1991.

Wherever the sculptures of Nancy Schön appear in your life they are sure to bring joy and fond memories of childhood tall tales.

These ducks are very far away from the Public Garden indeed!