The four aluminum towers of “Sky Castles” are colorful beacons of welcome at Radford University, but now the paint is flaking away from their surfaces and there are no umbrellas to shield them from the elements that are contributing to deterioration of this beloved work of art.
Created by acclaimed sculptor Dorothy Gillespie, a Southwest Virginia native and former RU faculty member, "Sky Castles" is one of 17 historical objects competing for inclusion in Virginia’s Top Ten Endangered Artifacts list, coordinated by the Virginia Association of Museums (VAM). This statewide initiative ensures the ongoing safety and stewardship of collections held by Virginia’s museums, libraries and archives.
According to VAM, the endangered artifacts designation offers collecting institutions across the Commonwealth of Virginia and the District of Columbia the opportunity to share their significant stories while building awareness of the threats and expense they face in serving as stewards of their collections.
With its deteriorating paint, "Sky Castles" and its status as part of the Radford University Art Museum Collection, it is eligible for inclusion as an endangered artifact.
"The piece has been exposed to the elements since its creation in 1999," said Museum Director Steve Arbury. "In 2005 the artist rectified minor damage, but Ms. Gillespie died last fall, so another such restoration is not possible."