‘Forward,’ Hans Christian Heg statues restored outside of State Capitol

MADISON, Wis. — Two statues that were torn down during a protest last summer have returned to their homes outside of the Wisconsin State Capitol.

The statues of “Forward” and Col. Hans Christian Heg were torn down the night of June 23, 2020 during a protest initially sparked by the arrest of a Madison activist.

RELATED: Protesters bring down Forward Statue outside Wisconsin State Capitol

After the statues were toppled, some protesters said they tore them down because they represented a false sense of forward progress.

“We’re not moving forward, we’re moving backwards,” Ebony Anderson-Carter, an activist, said at the time. “This (statue) doesn’t need to be here until we’re ready to move forward.”

RELATED: Protesters explain why they tore down statues at State Capitol

One man was ultimately arrested and charged with two felony counts of criminal damage to property as party to a crime for his alleged involvement in tearing down the statues.

Department of Administration Communications Director Tatyana said now that the statues have been restored, DOA plans to continue “necessary security precautions” including video and patrol surveillance.

As of Tuesday, invoices for the repairs were still being finalized, but the total cost is estimated to be roughly $82,000. Original estimates put the cost for the “Forward” statue at $30,000-45,000 and $30,000-50,000 for the Heg statue.

The repairs were covered by a pair of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts totalling $60,000, fundraising from the Wisconsin Historical Society and money from pending insurance claims.

The restoration work on the statues was done by Venus Bronze Works, a fabricator based in Detroit. The company has done historical conservation of outdoor sculptures across the country.

“We try to do them as close as original as we possibly could, and whenever you’re doing restoration work like this, you want to do as little in terms of subtracting from the original as possible,” Jay Jurma of Venus Bronze Works said.

Jurma says the Forward statue had a couple fingers broken off, and they had to cast copies at historical archives in Madison. The Forward statue also had to have abrasion damage from being dragged down the State Street steps of the Capitol repaired, and the statue had to be refinished after paint was also dumped over it.

The head on the Heg statue had to be completely redone, as it was missing after being cut off when it was pulled down. Venus Bronze Works found another copy of the statue in Milwaukee to make a mold for a new head, then welded it back onto the statue’s body.

“It’s very nice to see these standing where they’re supposed to be again,” Jurma said.

In the wake of the protests and amid claims that the statues outside of the Capitol didn’t accurately represent the state’s “Forward” motto, some community members began lobbying to install a statue of Vel Philips, Wisconsin’s first Black judge, outside the building.

As of late April, the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County had raised $300,000 to put toward the project, surpassing the organization’s goal of $250,000. BGCDC CEO Michael Johnson previously said he hoped the statue would be up by the end of 2021.

RELATED: Vel Phillips statue recommended for south side of Wisconsin Capitol

Earlier this summer, the state Capitol and Executive Residence Board subcommittee voted unanimously to recommend setting up a Vel Phillips statue on the south side of the Capitol building.