Worst Public Art: Burnside Fountain?


Christine McKenna nominates Charles Y. Harvey’s 1912 “Burnside Fountain” in Worcester for our Worst Public Art in New England project:

“Turtle Boy: Yes, it’s a sweet idea to have a young boy playing with a turtle, but…the scale of the statue is disproportionate, and the look on the turtle’s face so surprised, than one can’t help but wonder if the boy is molesting the turtle. Turtle Boy does have his fans, though: http://worcesterturtleboy.com/

“I actually read the wikipedia entry just now and realize that the turtle’s mouth is open because it used to be a fountain for transportation horses. Which brings us back to your original question: should we be saddled with public art that made sense 100 years ago but not necessarily in the current day?”

Read our entire list of Worst Public Art nominations so far here.

One Response to “Worst Public Art: Burnside Fountain?”

  1. Daggot says:

    Burnside Fountain (Turtle Boy)

    Chelone (Greek mythology)
    From Wikipedia
    In Greek mythology, Chelone was a nymph or a mortal woman who was changed into a tortoise by the gods. “Khelônê” means “tortoise” in Greek, and the tortoise was a symbol of silence in ancient times[citation needed].

    The main source for the myth of Chelone is Servius’s commentary on Virgil’s Aeneid, where Chelone is a nymph transformed by Hermes for refusing to attend the wedding of Hera and Zeus.

    “For his wedding with Juno [Hera], Jupiter [Zeus] ordered Mercurius [Hermes] to invite all the gods, the men and the animals to the wedding. Everyone invited by Mercurius [Hermes] came, except for Chelone who did not deign to be there, mocking the wedding. When Mercurius noticed her absence, he went back down to the earth, threw in the river the house of Chelone that was standing over the river and changed Chelone in an animal that would bear her name. Chelone is said testudo (tortoise) in Latin.” [1]

    Certain parts of the myth[citation needed] tell that Chelone was taking too long to be ready for the feast, which caused Zeus to become angry. In retribution, he crashed her house over her, and thus condemned her to drag her house forever as a tortoise.

    Although Chelone’s transformation was not mentioned in sources other than Servius, what is clearly a version of the same myth is found in Aesop’s Fables, where the main character is a tortoise to begin with, but does not initially have a shell:

    “Zeus invited all the animals to his wedding. The tortoise alone was absent, and Zeus did not know why, so he asked the tortoise (khelone) her reason for not having come to the feast. The tortoise said, ‘Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.’ Zeus got angry at the tortoise and ordered her to carry her house with her wherever she went.”

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