Little Known Facts: the pride of the art village’s origin story

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Photo by Peter Burleigh

If you walk along the gravel path through the woods between Haggar and the Art Village and the male freshman dorms, you will pass a regal bronze statue of a lion, sitting proudly and meeting your gaze serenely.   

Occasionally you may find the cat, known by several names such as “Moose” or “Artemis,” keeping him company. Bacchic celebrants will often visit him on nights of their rituals, offering him the contents of their bowls if they are particularly inebriated. But you will find no commemorative plaque or inscription on his platform, and his origins have long been a source of mystery and speculation on campus. 

The most popular theories are that he was stolen by UD students from SMU, or that he somehow came from Narnia, possibly via a portal; one student suggested simply that “an ancient forest spirit kinda left it there.” As fantastic as these theories are, there has been no confirmation of the statue’s origins. Until now. 

Back in mid January, I asked Dean Julia Carrano if she knew the story behind the story. She replied that she did not, but would search for the answer for me. Several weeks went by with no developments, until Dr. John Norris wrote to me, informing me of the answer. 

If you want it to remain a mystery, I invite you to stop reading now.

 He wrote that Therese Moncrief, “a former member of the board of trustees, bought two of these lions as a pair for her house, but only wanted the one, so she donated the other to the university. There is a painting in the north stairwell of the library from the ground floor going down to the subterranean floor that was also donated by her to the university. She is a person of great spirit and artistic insight and has been a devoted supporter of UD for years.” 

While this less-than spectacular resolution may disappoint some, I defend my presentation of these findings as a contribution to the culture and heritage of our beloved campus. And though you now know the humble origin of the lion, do not let it dull his beauty and majesty in your eyes. Artemis doesn’t. 

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