In the early stages of planning the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen were asked to create a fountain-sculpture. What resulted is the Twin Cities' most famous and most photographed landmark, SPOONBRIDGE AND CHERRY. The oversized sculpture was an enormous undertaking to install, and the Walker's "Oldenburg/van Bruggen" paper files are beginning to rival the sculpture in weight! When it commissioned the work, the Walker made a promise to maintain one of the largest functional, contemporary outdoor sculptures ever known, and a separate endowment fund was established to fund the maintenance of the piece indefinitely.
The conservation of the cherished fountain has ranged from changing the water in the pond from well water to city water (because of the stains left by the mineral deposits on the bowl of the spoon) to investigating new chemical coatings to protect the cherry's surface without losing its cherry-red color. Walker staff members have climbed the slippery spoon in the rain and snow to check for corrosion from a leak in the cherry stem, and the entire sculpture was repainted in 1995. The artists maintain a close relationship with the Walker and return to Minneapolis often to participate with the registrars in these unique conservation tasks. (These photographs show Oldenburg touching up the paint on the spoon).
Photographs of SPOONBRIDGE AND CHERRY are the most requested images of any in the Walker's permanent collection, which explains why there is so much paperwork in the object file for this sculpture. Requests come from organizations as varied as businesses who want the image on the cover of their meeting calendars to travel magazines published on the other side of the globe. The Walker's Registration Department is responsible for investigating each one to ensure that images of the piece are not used in a way that is disrespectful to the work or to the artists.