The death on Sunday, October 21st of George McGovern – who ran an unsuccessful campaign for president in 1972 against Richard Nixon – gives me the opportunity to offer a sneak preview of something that will be in my new book about things museums have that are rarely shown to the public.
Tucked away at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California is a plaster sculpture that depicts Richard Nixon and George McGovern arm-wrestling.
The sculpture was made in 1972 by art students at Lancaster Country Day School in Lancaster, PA. who had just been to see an exhibit of work by George Segal at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. They class traveled to Washington, D.C. to deliver the sculpture to the White House and it is now in storage at the Nixon museum in California with what may be thousands of other gifts given to the former president.
A curator told me that the museum can’t put this sculpture on display because it’s been damaged.
“One of the feet is broken. One of the hands is cracked. We’d need a get a conservator to fix the plaster.”