Celebrating a Milestone Anniversary in the Public Garden

Hard to imagine it has been 30 years!

The famous Ducklings sculpture in the Public Garden was installed in 1987 on the 150th anniversary of the Garden, and there was a milestone 30th anniversary celebration on October 7th, led by the sculptor Nancy Schön, with a beautiful cake, cookies shaped like ducklings, a giant egg, music, face painting, and magic.

The sculpture was commissioned by the Friends from a concept originated by Suzanne de Monchaux, an urban planner and author of a book on how children use cities. Approval for the sculpture to be placed in the historic Public Garden was needed from the Boston Art Commission, the Landmarks Commission, the Parks Commission, and the book’s author Robert McCloskey. Schön chose her “favorite” ducks from McCloskey’s drawings and added her own interpretations. However, she did not cast them until Robert McCloskey, whose Caldecott Medal winning book Make Way for Ducklings inspired the sculpture, had given them the seal of approval at the foundry. The sculpture was designed to be interactive and encourage climbing and play by children (and a few adults!), with the ducks placed directly on the ground.

There is only one other Make Way for Ducklings statue and it is in Moscow. In 1990, Mrs. George H.W. Bush and Mrs. Gorbachev visited the sculpture in the Garden after they spoke at Wellesley College commencement.  Schön offered to make another statue with McCloskey’s approval. Raisa Gorbachov had final approval for the location park near Novodevichy Convent. The Ducklings were finally installed in conjunction with a US Soviet summit and Mrs. Mallard, her eight ducklings (Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and Quack) along with 35 feet of Boston cobblestones now live in Boston and Moscow.

It is easily one of the most visited and beloved statues in Boston. While endowed by the Lynch Foundation, Mrs. Mallard and her family are kept shiny from all the love and attention lavished on them every day, reminding generations of children of the ducklings’ journey to the Public Garden and into the hearts of Bostonians.