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.