New Brunswick

Burns, Beaverbrook statues to make comeback in downtown Fredericton

The Beaverbrook Art Gallery is bringing back the Robbie Burns statue — only this time he'll have some company.

2 statues will be placed by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery next June

The Robert Burns statue is expected to sit just outside the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton.

The Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton is bringing back the Robert Burns statue — only this time, the Scottish poet will have some company.

The gallery will also become home to the statue of its benefactor, Lord Beaverbrook, which has been sitting just down the road in Officers' Square.

Fredericton city council approved money this week to help put the two statues outside the gallery and also repair the nearby James Dunn Memorial Fountain, a gift to Fredericton from Lord Beaverbrook in memory of his friend and fellow New Brunswicker.

"They'll give people a sense of pride in the community," said Tom Smart, CEO and director of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery.

The gallery and city will share the costs of creating the sculpture garden, which will be set up on the Green, next to the new pavilion at the gallery.

The gallery will spend $80,000 on the reinstatement of the Robbie Burns statue, $10,000 on the Lord Beaverbrook statue and another $10,000 on the Dunn fountain, also known as The Three Graces. The City of Fredericton will contribute a matching $100,000.

A heritage permit will be required from the provincial government before the Beaverbrook statue is moved.

Familiar faces

The Burns statue, first installed in 1906 in the area where the gallery now stands, was put in storage during work on gallery renovations.

Made of bronze and more than three metres tall on a granite pedestal, the statue will be placed on the Green beside the gallery building.

"Robbie Burns has been on public view in Fredericton for well over 100 years, so it's really re-establishing him and putting him in the park so people can appreciate him," Smart said.

Since 1957, the bronze Beaverbook statue, about 2.7 metres tall, has been in Officers' Square, which is supposed to be getting a makeover that also includes the removal of trees.

Reinventing the space

The statue will be removed and placed in the art gallery's sculpture garden but closer to the St. John River, from where he'll look at the city and "his gallery, making sure we're doing OK," Smart said. 

"Lord Beaverbrook — that's his gift — the art gallery and the [art] collection he gave 60 years ago."

Smart is hoping the two statues will reinvent the Green outside the gallery and give it more of a "park-like feel" for the public.  

The two statues are expected to be set up by next June, and Smart hopes there will be a dedication ceremony in their honour.

"We see this as extending our reach into the park and engaging the community on a whole different level," he said.

With files from Information Morning Fredericton