The return of the pumas to their perches in front of the Exhibit Museum of Natural History Ruthven Museums Building on Central Campus will be celebrated with a free public Puma Party from 3-5 p. m. June 2. There will be cake, puma chocolates for the first 200 visitors, and opportunities to buy t-shirts, tote bags, and gourmet puma chocolates hand-made by Tammy’s Tastings as a fundraiser for the museum.
The event is coupled with the opening of an exhibit on the work of Carleton Angell, the puma’s sculptor. During his 34 years working for U-M he created hundreds of sculptures, plaques, and drawings. Angell retired in 1956 from U-M, but continued sculpting until his death in 1962.
The original sculptures, created in 1940, were cast in terrazzo, a mixture of stone chips in cement. Weathering had caused them to crack and crumble. The original pumas are being replaced with more durable bronze casts funded by a donation from Jagdish and Saroj Janveja.
Craftsmen at Venus Bronze Works in Detroit repaired the original pumas and made new molds, which were sent to the Fine Arts Sculpture Center in Clarkston, where specialists produced the bronze casts. The casts were treated with chemicals and pigments to produce the familiar black color of the terrazzo sculptures. The original cats are now in storage.
Crews returned the pumas to their perches May 16. (Photo by Dan Erickson)