Sculpture in Denver honors Snowmastodon dig | AspenTimes.com

Sculpture in Denver honors Snowmastodon dig

Staff report

Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks at the dedication of a bronze mastodon sculpture on Oct. 23 at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. The sculpture commemorates the 2010-11 fossil dig in Snowmass Village that uncovered the remains of more than 50 species of ice-age animals.

A bronze sculpture of a mastodon commemorating the ice-age fossil dig in Snowmass Village was unveiled at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science on Oct. 23.

Artist Kent Ullberg designed the sculpture, which stands more than 19 feet tall and weighs more than 5,000 pounds, according to a statement. Working from actual fossils found near Snowmass Village and consulting with Dr. Daniel Fisher, University of Michigan professor and leading mastodon expert, and museum paleontologists Dr. Ian Miller and Dr. Kirk Johnson, Ullberg sculpted a physiologically accurate mastodon.

"Hand digging for mastodon bones unearthed a passion within our family and guests who were at the site," said Peter Dea, cofounder of the Dea Family Foundation, along with Cathy Dea, and past chairman and current member of the museum's board of trustees. "This real-life treasure hunt, where every other shovel full of red dirt revealed a mystery of the Ice Age, gripped us and truly epitomized the act of discovery."

The sculpture was funded by the Dea Family Foundation, Austin Carpenter, Drake Carpenter, and Cort Carpenter, and commissioned by the museum to recognize the discovery and for the public's enjoyment.

A native of Sweden, Ullberg is recognized as one of world's foremost wildlife sculptors. He has also worked at museums around the world, including as a curator at the Botswana National Museum and Gallery, and as an exhibits artist and developer at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. He now resides in Corpus Christi, Texas, and maintains a studio in Loveland.

"The Denver Museum of Nature & Science first brought me to the United States in 1972, and this project brings me full circle. I will always be grateful for the connection I have with the museum," Ullberg said.

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