Save Outdoor Sculpture!

Save Outdoor Sculpture! was founded in 1989 as a community-based effort to identify, document, and conserve American outdoor sculptures.  Many museums and other cultural institutions, large and small, were involved with the project, which was jointly-sponsored by Heritage Preservation and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, with funding from Target Stores, the National Endowment for the Arts, Pew Charitable Trusts, the Getty Grant Program, the Henry Luce Foundation, and others. Sadly, when Heritage Preservation disbanded in 2015, Save Outdoor Sculpture came to an end. 

History of Save Outdoor Sculpture is coming soon!

In the meantime, read up on S.O.S. here.

And check out a past issue of the S.O.S. newsletter, here!




Part of SOS involved an initiative to introduce conservation and heritage to kids through an interactive website. SOS 4 Kids! also partnered with the Girl Scouts of America to create a Save Outdoor Sculpture patch. Girl scouts from a troop in Louisiana earned their badge in a project detailed on the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training blog, here.

Click here to see an archived version of the original website!

Read more in Diane L. Mossholder essay on Save Outdoor Sculpture

"Public awareness was integral to the survey. Coordinating organizations committed to at least one public awareness activity, with the goal of raising funds to care for sculptures. Some survey groups wore T-shirts and carried tote bags with the SOS! logo while they worked, inspiring questions from passersby."

-Diane L. Mossholder

Susan Nichols commissioned a quilt to be made from the iconic t-shirts designed specifically for S.O.S. project volunteers to commemorate the program.

"I loved the Save Outdoor Sculpture! program because it was so much fun and so accessible to a layperson like me. One of my first projects for it was to finish the web site. The Girl Scout badge section of it had some missing pieces. One of the activities they could do was write poetry about a sculpture, and there were supposed to be examples of all the different kinds of poems they could do. So I had to write those. I don’t remember any of them (doubtless they weren’t that memorable!) but I had so much fun and learned a lot about poetry!

I still remember some of my favorite sculpture stories. The community coming together to restore the King Kamehameha sculpture on the big island of Hawaii stuck in my head so much that when I visited there in 2009, I forced my vacation buddy to drive quite far out of the planned itinerary to find it so I could take a picture. I hope someday to see its companion in Honolulu. I also remember that there were a lot of Statue of Liberty replicas around the country, though I’ve never seen one. Before SOS!, I had no idea there was so much public sculpture. Now when I see it, I have a new appreciation for it."

Diane Mossholder