Damaged sculpture at Purdue taken down for repair

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A bronze horse sculpture at Purdue University has been taken down after police say a drunken driver crashed into the eight-foot-tall structure.

Purdue Galleries director Craig Martin said university officials have not estimated the cost to repair the sculpture that stood outside Yue-Kong Pao Hall on the West Lafayette campus until the crash early last Thursday. The 1,700-pound work by sculptor Deborah Butterfield cost about $330,000 when it was commissioned and installed in 2009.

"It looked like it had just fallen over when I first took a look," Martin told WLFI-TV. "There were some grill parts from the car and some pieces of the thing that had broken off."

Crews placed metal railings around the area where the structure had stood.

A 22-year-old man faces drunken driving charges in the crash, according to West Lafayette police. The driver needed surgery for a back injury he suffered in the crash, the Journal & Courier reported.

Purdue officials are considering sending the piece back to Butterfield, who is based in Montana and Hawaii. But since it was specifically crafted for Purdue, they aren't sure whether Butterfield has the original molds needed to recreate the sculpture.

Butterfield's skeletal horses are first assembled with found driftwood, then taken apart, molded into bronze and welded back into shape. The process is lengthy and delicate, so the reconstruction process will likely be expensive, said Harry Bulow, the head of Purdue's Rueff School of Visual and Performing Arts.

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