Dallas’ Adopt-A-Monument History

Dallas’ Adopt-A-Monument History

Adopt-A-Monument was a public/private partnership formed in 1988 to preserve deteriorating monuments and sculptures owned by the City of Dallas.  Many of the City’s monuments and sculptures were endangered by the ravages of time, pollution, vandalism and neglect.  Adopt-A-Monument was formed to restore those important symbols of the City’s culture and history for future generations.

The new Adopt-A-Monument program received enthusiastic endorsements from the Mayor Annette Strauss, the City Council of Dallas, and the editorial boards of both The Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Times Herald:

ADOPT-A-MONUMENT—Project can help protect Dallas history.”

“A press conference was held to announce the Adopt-A-Monument project.  The idea is to generate private support as well as greater city involvement in restoring public sculptures in the city…16 sculptures are being offered for public sponsorship through the Adopt-A-Monument program…there’s an opportunity to ensure that the city’s visual legacy is here tomorrow.”  (The Dallas Morning News editorial, November 17, 1988)

Do Adopt a Dallas Monument

“DALLAS CANNOT LET ITS outdoor art fall into ruin from neglect.  The new Adopt-A-Monument organization announced Wednesday it will take the lead in raising $250,000 to clean and repair 16 major pieces.  The campaign deserves support from all segments of this community.  The Adopt-A-Monument drive is similar to those which have helped save public art works in Boston and New York City…Public-private collaborations have added much to the life of the city.  Now such efforts are needed to ensure the preservation of public monuments and art works, and to honor the history they represent.”  (Dallas Times Herald editorial, November 18, 1988)

Adopt-A-Monument’s first restoration was the “Dallas Piece”, the majestic bronze sculpture in City Hall Plaza created by the internationally renowned Henry Moore.  This restoration with private funds led to the official formation and launching of Adopt-A-Monument.

The goal of Adopt-A-Monument was to create widespread “grass roots” interest in Dallas’ art in outdoor places.  A wonderful example of this was “Indians and Wild Things”, a fun party sponsored by the Dallas area YMCA Indian Guides and Princesses programs, the Dallas Zoo and Adopt-A-Monument to raise money to restore the popular “Bird and Reptile Mosaic” by Merritt Yearsley in front of the Zoo’s Bird and Reptile Building.  This event was repeated in subsequent years at Halloween as “Boo at the Zoo”.

The most exciting Adopt-A-Monument event occurred in February 1990 when legendary radio personality Ron Chapman of KVIL-FM asked his huge audience to contribute pennies on Lincoln’s Birthday and then dollars on Washington’s Birthday to restore the historic George Bannerman Dealey Monument at Dealey Plaza (which is by Felix W. deWeldon, the internationally known sculptor who also did the famous Iwo Jima monument in Washington, D.C.)  KVIL listeners responded with several tons (literally!) of pennies and buckets of dollars, totaling nearly $15,000, and the campaign went off the chart when the A.H. Belo Corporation, the publisher of the Dallas Morning News that was founded by George Bannerman Dealey, contributed $20,000.

One of the most visible projects of Adopt-A-Monument was the removal of the “Genesis, The Gift of Life” mural by legendary Mexican artist Miguel Covarrubias from the Stewart Building in North Dallas and the relocation/installation of the mural on a free-standing wall at its present location outside the entrance to the Dallas Museum of Art.

With the encouragement of the Adopt-A-Monument movement, the following monuments and sculptures also were restored through private and public funds:

The “Floating Sculpture” by the European artist Marta Pan in City Hall Plaza
The historic “Martin Luther King, Jr.” sculpture by Walter Winn, Jr. and Oscar M. Graves at the Martin Luther King Community Center
The important “Spirit of Flight Memorial” by Charles Umlauf, which greets travelers at Love Field
The majestic “Tejas Warrior” by Allie Tennant, which stands guard high about the entrance to the historic Hall of State at Fair Park
The “Mule Deer” statue along Turtle Creek
The “R.L. Thornton” statue in Fair Park

Adopt-A-Monument received national recognition when it was chosen to become an SOS! Coordinating Organization for SOS! (Save our Outdoor Sculpture!), a joint project of the National Museum of American Art, the Smithsonian Institution and the National Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Property.  SOS! featured Adopt-A-Monument’s program and successes in a video and SOS! Materials that was distributed nationally.

In 2014 Adopt-A-Monument became the Adopt-A-Monument Fund at the Dallas Foundation.