During the royal visit from Their Majesties this past Friday, Oct. 5, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden took part in a Chirst Chapel service and dedication ceremony for the new Sesquicentennial Plaza and sculpture.
With a number of media outlets from the Twin Cities, Mankato and Sweden, the dedication of the Plaza and sculpture took place on a windy afternoon.
“The dedication of the Plaza, other than the weather, was excellent. Their majesties appreciated the opportunity to see the mall and see the timeline of the college. I think it’s fair to say that Their Majesties were appreciative of the history perspective from when the college was founded by Swedish immigrants to today,” President Jack Ohle said.
The Plaza, which features a sculpture made primarily from stone reaching 18 feet high and a timeline spiraling out from this sculpture to the Chapel, sits in the enclosure between the Chapel, Olin Hall, Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library and the Nobel Hall of Science.
Students from across the campus have remarked that the sculpture resembles a tornado. The designer of the sculpture had intended for the helix and Mobius strip to represent spiritual growth and time. “I believe that layering the sculpture to represent every year of our existence was masterful,” Ohle said. “I’ve heard concerns about why it would look like a tornado. To some it would, but Greg addressed that in his remarks. Although I wasn’t here during that tornado, our son was here in the early 90s. I know the devastation and observed firsthand what was done to recover from that. The sculpture speaks to that. In all of that turmoil and tragedy, we stand strong. And the institution is in a very good place today and that’s a sign of our ability to recover.”
While many media outlets attended the event, few students took part in the dedication. However, for students who joined in the dedication of the Plaza, a greater understanding of the sculpture seemed to have emerged in many of them.
“I liked that different people went up and talked about why the statue was such a big deal,” Junior Blia Xiong said. “I liked that they brought back their own memories and shared a part of their piece of Gustavus. There weren’t a lot of students there but I think that were students to go to the dedication, they would’ve had a greater appreciation for the sculpture.”
“The plaza will be a great area for us students to socialize and hang out,” said Xiong. “Before now, it was just a place, a shortcut for us to get to class. It wasn’t used for anything, so I like how now it has a sense of meaning.”