Copper in the Arts

October 2021

Toledo Museum of Art Adds Two Monumental Sculptures

By Paul David

ToledoMuseum.jpgWangechi Mutu’s bronze sculpture, The Seated II. 
Photo courtesy of The Toledo Museum of Art. 

The Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) recently announced the acquisition of two major works by leading contemporary artists Wangechi Mutu and Josiah McElheny, to be installed at the Georgia and David K. Welles Sculpture Garden in 2022.

These two important pieces are part of a growing collection of more than 25 exceptional works of art sited on the Museum’s 40-acre campus. The new works include Mutu’s The Seated II (2019), featuring a bronze sculpture of a woman inspired by the caryatid, and McElheny’s Moon Mirror (2019) featuring a crescent-shaped work of colored glass and metal  that suggests a luminous half-moon resting on a plane. 

“The Toledo Museum of Art looks forward to engaging our community through these important additions to our outdoor collection by two of the most versatile and innovative artists working today,” says Adam M. Levine, Edward Drummond and Florence Scott Libbey director and CEO of the Toledo Museum of Art. “We are grateful to the members of the Georgia Welles Apollo Society for their support of Josiah McElheny’s Moon Mirror and to the donors who supported the acquisition of Wangechi Mutu’s The Seated II.”

Mutu’s bronze sculpture is part of a series of four works of seated females entitled The New Ones, will free Us, originally commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The series title reflects the artist’s belief in the liberating power of new ideas, new people, new forms of knowledge and new ways of living.

The stunning sculpture features protective copper coils covering the subject’s body like armor reminiscent of traditional African adornment worn by women of status. 

“The new ones, the new voices include the young people, the immigrants who are the newest arrival to the country…all of the people who are fighting for rights of the most marginalized communities – essentially anyone who is entering or attempting to enter the conversation and demanding that they be treated equally,” Mutu previously stated when speaking about the series. “The New Ones include us if we are ready to be part of the conversation.”

Born in Kenya in 1972, Mutu came to the United States in her early 20s and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Cooper Union and Master of Fine Arts in sculpture from Yale University. 

“These outstanding and profound additions to the collection, The Seated II and Moon Mirror, uniquely connect the Toledo Museum of Art to its history and culture, and their acquisition underscores TMA’s commitment to outdoor sculpture as a forum for self-reflection, meaningful dialogue and social connection,” says Diane Wright, TMA’s senior curator of glass and contemporary craft.


Toledo Museum of Art, 2445 Monroe St., Toledo, OH, (419) 255-8000

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