In the Spring of 2016, it was announced on a Columbia blog that the sculpture "Reclining Figure," a sculpture by Henry Moore, would be installed in front of Butler Library. It’s 9-by-11-by-7 feet, and looks like a tarantula lovingly honey-glazed by a team of trained rhesus monkeys.
A group of students, including editors emeriti of the Blue and White, Daniel Stone and Hallie Nell Swanson, and sailing aficionado Alex Randall, immediately staged a protest against the installation of the statue on the grounds that the student body hadn’t had prior warning (and against the general aesthetics of the thing). They promptly launched Following this, CCSC released a petition to the entire study body asking students their thoughts on the statue, to which 859 students responded; 57.8% preferred it to be placed elsewhere on campus, 32.5% didn’t want the sculpture on campus at all, and only 9.7% wanted to keep the sculpture in its original intended location.
The sculpture debacle sparked a flurry of op-eds both for and against the sculpture. The debate was full of both sound and fury.
It was rumored that soon after this grassroots uprising (it is said that if Dan Stone had not gone to the obscure Columbia blogs page in the first place, students would still not know of the statue’s impending arrival), the Trustees halted installation and are planning to place it elsewhere. Only time will tell.
Bollinger's remarks surrounding the installation of the statue at a University Senate meeting in which he assumes responsibility for the installation:
I want to say something about the Henry Moore sculpture. So this is a mistake. And I don’t mean a mistake in the actual outcome, I mean a mistake in the way the institution has functioned. It’s nobody’s fault except mine because my responsibility is everything, especially those things that don’t go right. I would describe this as a classic – and I don’t mean this to be derogative of anybody – but a classic kind of bureaucratic mistake, that is, everybody around the institution thinking they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing, doing it in good faith and with enthusiasm, and we end up in a result where there has not been a sufficient collective thought process here and a decision making process that we are comfortable with.So we put this on pause. We will have that process more and will figure out the right result. So it’s my responsibility. It is just the institution, one case I know of, tried never to let this happen, but somehow it happened and that’s where we are. I’ll take questions in just a minute. Let me come back on this rather than take time today. I have to leave at two o’clock, I have a plane and we have a number of things. But I’ll try to give more on this in time. I just want to acknowledge that this is not the way – good faith, again, everybody acted well. A result that wasn’t sufficiently vetted through the University. I promise not to put up the Henry Moore sculpture during the summer while you’re all away. So summer powers does not include resolving this.
As of July 20th, 2016 photos indicate the space where the Moore sculpture was set to be installed has been covered over with grass.