Time and Navigation and a Dog

When the National Air and Space
Museum needed a very special dog,
they turned to OEC’s Model Shop.

In 1839, Charles Wilkes led the
U.S. Exploring Expedition into Antarctic waters, accompanied by a large
Newfoundland named Sydney. For the exhibition “Time and Navigation: The Untold
Story of Getting from Here to There
,” NASM planned a diorama of Wilkes’s cabin.
Naturally they wanted to include Sydney.

NASM asked the Model Shop for a
sculpture, to be based on Sir Edwin Landseer’s 1831 dog painting A Distinguished Member of the Humane Society.
(Fun fact: This breed of black and white Newfoundland is now called Landseer
Newfoundland, after the painting.)

OEC modelmakers began with an
armature of wire and Styrofoam. Lora Collins (Model Shop supervisor and chief
sculptor) then piled on the clay and sculpted a lifelike, full-scale dog
portrait. When the sculpture is done, modelmaker Chris Hollshwander will make a
mold of the piece in silicone rubber. The mold will then go to a metal foundry,
and a bronze cast of Sydney will be produced, finished with a black and white
patina to match the coloring of the breed.



Stage 1: A basic dog shape in foam and wire. On the wall,
a print of Landseer’s A Distinguished Member of the Humane Society serves as a model, along with photos of less famous Newfoundlands.



Stage 2: With clay applied over the wire armature, the sculpture starts to look more realistic.


Modelmaker Carolyn Thome (right) brought in her dog for a day of live modeling. Not the same breed, but her presence helped Lora to give life to the figure. In the background, Lora Collins and Erin Mahoney.


Stage 3: Sculptor Lora Collins adds detail.



Lora Collins works on a paw. As details of fur and expression are added, Sydney’s personality emerges


Ready for the mold

Ready for his close-up! The clay model is finished and all set for mold-making.



  1. OCE´s work is amazing. When i was child i´ve got a newfoundland (in spain named “labrador”) called Nico. And it was identical to Sidney model. I´m impresed with the expression. Congratulations.

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