Rubber Duck heading temporarily to Virginia museum
March 11, 2014 5:52 PM
The Rubber Duck, towed by an Alcosan boat, heads down the Ohio River, leaving Pittsburgh on the morning of Oct. 21, 2013.
By Elizabeth Bloom / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh’s 40-foot-tall rubber duck, which has been in hibernation since the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts in October, will fly south to the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Va., this May.
The beloved duck that nested in Point State Park last fall will make the cameo from May 17 to 26, as part of the Chrysler Museum’s reopening on May 10. The museum is currently closed for renovations.
While the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust owns the artwork, its creator, Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, gets to determine where it goes next.
“I think it’s very important for people to understand that the artist controls its placement,” said Paul Organisak, the Trust’s vice president of programming and curator of the festival.
As part of the agreement between the Trust and Mr. Hofman, the duck was not to appear in another city for three months after docking in Pittsburgh. While it was here, Mr. Organisak said several entities, including the Chrysler Museum of Art, had approached him and Mr. Hofman about the canard.
Ultimately, the decision was up to the artist. The approval was granted this past fall, Mr. Organisak said, but the Trust made the announcement today.
“Norfolk got in contact a long time ago already. It’s a great place for the duck in the series of its travels...I look forward seeing the duck there changing the site and its audience perspective,” said Mr. Hofman in an email.
“It’s kind of interesting that it’s Norfolk,” Mr. Organisak said, as opposed to a larger city. Residents of San Francisco, for example, have petitioned online to bring the duck there.
The duck will dock in the Chrysler Museum’s entrance, known as The Hague, which Mr. Organisak described as a large inlet. It is currently receiving “plastic surgery” at a factory in Brunswick, Ohio, he said. The deflated bird had been in storage in the South Side.
The Cultural Trust will not receive money from the exchange. The Chrysler Museum is responsible for all costs related to the duck’s transportation and appearance there.
“It’s not in our mission to rent out ducks,” Mr. Organisak said.
The Trust is helping the museum understand the logistics of hosting the big bird, such as deciding how much merchandise to purchase. In Pittsburgh, the artwork drew more than a million viewers and generated tens of millions of dollars in spending Downtown.
“We were pretty overwhelmed by the response,” Mr. Organisak said.
Part of what made the project so successful on the first try was that it was unique, and any guest appearance would demand an equally special occasion, Mr. Organisak said.
“As of right now, I can tell you we do not have any plans to relaunch it here,” he said.
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