AU to hold open house and re-dedication event for Auriculum


Thanks to a grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded by the State Library of Ohio, the Ashland University Library has scheduled the restoration and rededication of the most recognizable artwork on the Ashland University main campus: John Clague’s Auriculum.

The federal Institute of Museum and Library Services is an independent government agency that is the main source of federal support for libraries and museums within the United States, having the mission to create strong libraries and museums that connect people with information.

Jamie Berilla-Macdonald was the co-author of the grant application that allowed AU to hire a conservator to clean and perform preservation treatment to the sculpture.

“We thought it would be an ideal time to highlight this work since it has been on campus for nearly 50 years,” Berilla-Macdonald said. “While we also will use some of the funds for preservation materials for items in our special books room, the attention given to the sculpture will be more immediately visible to everyone on campus as they pass the building.”

The Auriculum sculpture was constructed by the Cleveland based artist John Clague (1928–2004) in 1973 as part of a government grant to beautify the newly built library building with an artistic component. Clague intended the sculpture to complement the brutalist style of the library’s architecture and showcase the transformation of steel and lead into beautiful abstract forms.

Jim Gwinner of the McKay Lodge Art Conservation Laboratory will complete the restorative treatment to the sculpture on Monday, April 29th, weather permitting. According to Berilla-Macdonald, “The conservator, from the McKay Lodge Art Conservation Laboratory, was impressed by the good condition the sculpture is in even now, despite having sustained some damage from wind storms and vandalism in the past.”

“However, no outdoor sculpture should go without treatment indefinitely if it is intended to permanently face the elements,” Berilla-Macdonald said.“While the overall form of the sculpture will remain the same, he will perform a restorative chemical treatment on the sculpture that will clean the surface and keep it looking shiny.”

This large and distinctive stainless steel and lead sculpture was assembled on campus in 1973 with support from a federal grant. Clague (1928–2004) intended for Auriculum to complement the new library’s Brutalist architectural style, and to bring “interactive joy” to the AU community by combining visual, auditory and tactile elements in the work.

An open house with light refreshments to celebrate the restoration will be held on Thursday, May 2, from noon to 2 p.m., with a brief rededication ceremony taking place at 1 p.m. The festivities are free and open to the public.