Questions resolved about lamp’s place at the Statehouse

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(Host) The saga of a nude statue at the Statehouse appears to be resolved but a group that’s working to restore the state capital building isn’t pleased with the compromise.

The statue in question is a lamp that’s a replica of a sculpture known as the “The Greek Slave.” It’s an image of a nude and chained woman who’s waiting to be sold in a slave market. Vermont-born sculptor Hiram Johnson created the original lamp and the piece is considered to be an important work of Vermont art.

The curator of the Statehouse wanted to place the lamp on the main desk in the governor’s ceremonial office at the Statehouse but the governor’s press secretary, Jason Gibbs, said Governor Jim Douglas didn’t like the idea.

Gibbs said the governor was concerned that the statue might be damaged by some of the many schoolchildren who visit the office during the Legislative session. He added that it also wasn’t a good idea for the children to see a nude statue, a comment he later said was meant as a joke.

At the Statehouse on Wednesday), Douglas personally addressed the issue for the first time. He left no doubt that the morality question had nothing to do with his decision to remove the statue from his office while the General Assembly is in session:

(Douglas) “Reporters sit on that desk during press conferences, during the Legislative session, we have it covered with food, when we have events of various kinds in there, as well as a lot of groups coming in to take up every available square inch. It’s not a place that lends itself to have an historical artifact. Frankly, I wouldn’t care if that statue were wearing a sweater and turtleneck. It’s not an appropriate place for a lamp.”

(Host) Under the compromise, the statue will be placed elsewhere in the Statehouse during the session. Once lawmakers adjourn it will be placed on the governor’s desk. Douglas says this proposal will protect the statue because his ceremonial office is roped off to prevent visitors from entering the room when the Legislature is not in session.

The group Friends of the Statehouse disagrees. They say the statue should stay on the governor’s desk year-round and be used to teach schoolchildren and visitors about the Civil War.

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