Editor's note: Story was originally published on June 9, 1987
Wichita State University's "Loss of Innocence," a bronze outdoor sculpture, prompted museum officials Monday to remove seven other outdoor art pieces from the campus grounds.
"Innocence," valued at $20,000, was the third sculpture to be stolen in the past three months, and the mysterious disappearance this weekend has baffled university officials and police.
Tom Gormally, curator of the Edwin A. Ulrich Museum of Art, said Monday that the theft had forced officials to secure seven other outdoor sculptures in the museum's vault for an indefinite period of time.
We feel it's just a tragedy. We feel that the outdoor sculpture collection is something that we share with the city. It's been a very positive part of the university and the city," Gormally said.
Martin Bush, museum director, said that some of the pieces that have been stored, especially the bigger ones, might be returned to the campus soon. The museum needs to devise a method to more securely anchor the sculptures to the bases, he said.
"Innocence," by William Zorach, was stolen between 11:45 p.m. Friday and 3:45 a.m. Saturday. It was one of 50 pieces in the outdoor collection, which was begun in 1972.
The Wichita State University Endowment Association, a private non-profit organization, owns the pieces.
Angela Windham, student body vice president, said that last year $25,000 of student fees went for the collection.
This is a shock. I enjoy the outdoor collection. It's a shame," she said. Windham said she understood that the pieces needed to be safe, but it seems senseless to lock them up where people can't see them."
George Ritchie, student body president, said that students thought that previous thefts of outdoor art were pranks. Now, it sounds like a serious situation," he said.
"Innocence," which is 4 feet high and weighs about 120 pounds, was bolted to its marble base with two half-inch-thick bolts. Another bolt secured the marble base to a concrete base. Gormally said that the thief or thieves probably rocked the statue and broke the bolts that held it.
Lt. John Davis of WSU's police department said that police did not have any leads on the two previous thefts but that they may get a lead from this one.
Davis said detectives were trying to get fingerprints from the bases of the statue and were interviewing people who had been on campus on the night of the theft.
He said he did not know whether the thefts were connected.
The other two pieces stolen were "Bust of Robert Frost," taken March 31, and a sculpture from the collection The Family Group," taken April 2. The value on those pieces was relatively low, Gormally said.
The museum Monday removed pieces that were small or could be loosened from their bases.
"We felt that these pieces were more vulnerable," Gormally said. He said security inside the museum has remained unchanged.
"The museum removed the rest of The Family Group," which was at the entrance to Ahlberg Hall; Harvest," which was on the north side of McKinley Hall; Centaur and Nymph," at the entrance to Duerksen Fine Arts Center; Invocation," near the south entrance to Morrison Hall; Grand Torso," which was across the sidewalk from Innocence" at the north entrance to the Campus Activities Center; King Solomon," on the north side of Clinton Hall; and The Cathedral," at the south end of the Campus Activities Center.