President Harding's Art Donation Finds its Home
By Anne Yeager | May 24, 2018
After months of planning, preparation, and design, a piece of treasured art donated by the family of President Warren G. Harding has a home at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center.
The plaster likeness of the Marion, Ohio, native's face is itself a piece of art. It became the mold for the bas-relief sculpture of the 20th president that has graced the walls of the Grand Concourse of the building since its construction more than eight decades ago.
Workers with Exhibit Concepts Inc. of Vandalia, Ohio, designed, built, and finished an elevated glass enclosure that preserves the fragile plaster while making the cast of President Harding come alive as a part of the Court's Visitor Education Center displays.
"He was very interested in making sure that everybody had a chance to succeed, equal rights. He was very big on that and peace and prosperity for everybody," Dr. Warren Harding, President Harding's grandnephew, said last year when the plaster cast was donated to the Court.
The plaster cast was moved to the center by Court personnel from a family home in Worthington.
Dan Bennett was the part of the team building the Visitor Education Center in 2005. The company has been working on projects at the center ever since.
"It was a really good project," Bennett said. "All the little pieces add up to the moving parts that make up the story and telling that story --living it. The history of the building is awesome."
A pedestal was built to fit with the building's design. The plaster cast was put on top. Then came the cliffhanger: Workers had to gingerly place the acrylic glass enclosure over the president's likeness without ruining the art.
"That's the scary part -- what will go wrong, and will it go wrong?" Bennett said.
The encasement went smoothly. Now, visitors can view President Harding on the ground floor at the education center, and one floor up in the Grand Concourse.
Because it's history, the installation was more than just a job for Bennett and his employer. While working on the Harding project, Exhibit Concepts also was finishing its work fabricating and assembling the exhibits at the new Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, Mississippi.