Uncle Beazley Is On The Move

The "Uncle Beazley" fiberglass sculpture is placed on a flatbed truck at the National Zoo, on Feb. 16. Donated to the Smithsonian in 1967, the triceratops statue is getting a facelift after many years of being loved. i i

The "Uncle Beazley" fiberglass sculpture is placed on a flatbed truck at the National Zoo, on Feb. 16. Donated to the Smithsonian in 1967, the triceratops statue is getting a facelift after many years of being loved. Mehgan Murphy/Smithsonian Institution hide caption

itoggle caption Mehgan Murphy/Smithsonian Institution
The "Uncle Beazley" fiberglass sculpture is placed on a flatbed truck at the National Zoo, on Feb. 16. Donated to the Smithsonian in 1967, the triceratops statue is getting a facelift after many years of being loved.

The "Uncle Beazley" fiberglass sculpture is placed on a flatbed truck at the National Zoo, on Feb. 16. Donated to the Smithsonian in 1967, the triceratops statue is getting a facelift after many years of being loved.

Mehgan Murphy/Smithsonian Institution

This morning on the way to work I shrieked when I saw a giant familiar statue driving by on a flatbed truck.

"The rhinoceros!" I yelled.

"You mean a triceratops?" said my fiance.

"The triceratops! Oh my gosh, where are they taking it?"

If you were a child growing up in Washington, D.C., chances are you climbed on "Uncle Beazley." During my childhood he was a bumbling, comforting figure in front of the Natural History Museum. His horns were worn smooth, and he was ever patient as we climbed up his back to sit on his spine. He was always stoic - he never complained.

And I'm sure I can be forgiven for thinking he was a rhinoceros as a child – all I knew was that he had horns, a roughly patterned hide, and that I loved him.

Smithsonian Secretary S. Dillon Ripley poses with "Uncle Beazley,"  at the opening of the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum on September 15,1967. i i

Smithsonian Secretary S. Dillon Ripley poses with "Uncle Beazley," at the opening of the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum on September 15,1967. Smithsonian Institution Archives hide caption

itoggle caption Smithsonian Institution Archives
Smithsonian Secretary S. Dillon Ripley poses with "Uncle Beazley,"  at the opening of the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum on September 15,1967.

Smithsonian Secretary S. Dillon Ripley poses with "Uncle Beazley," at the opening of the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum on September 15,1967.

Smithsonian Institution Archives

The fiberglass "Uncle Beazley" statue was donated to the National Zoo by the Sinclair Oil Company, which originally built it as part of an exhibition for the 1964 World's Fair. It's since moved around to the Anacostia Community Museum, the National Museum of Natural History, and in 1994 it was returned to the Zoo. Children are no longer allowed to climb on it.

The statue was also used in the 1968 TV adaptation of the book The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth. In the story, a young boy discovers a dinosaur egg in his hen house, and ends up donating the triceratops to the "National Museum" in Washington.

"Uncle Beazley" on the National Mall in 1977. He was located in front of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington. i i

"Uncle Beazley" on the National Mall in 1977. He was located in front of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington. Smithsonian Institution Archives hide caption

itoggle caption Smithsonian Institution Archives
"Uncle Beazley" on the National Mall in 1977. He was located in front of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington.

"Uncle Beazley" on the National Mall in 1977. He was located in front of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington.

Smithsonian Institution Archives

The Smithsonian is now giving him a facelift. Over the years he's become faded and cracked, and he needs a new paint job. "The sparkle in his eye was not there," said Teresa Vetick, curator of horticulture at the National Zoo.

"Uncle Beazley" is hoisted onto a flatbed truck at the National Zoo. i i

"Uncle Beazley" is hoisted onto a flatbed truck at the National Zoo. Mehgan Murphy/Smithsonian Institution hide caption

itoggle caption Mehgan Murphy/Smithsonian Institution
"Uncle Beazley" is hoisted onto a flatbed truck at the National Zoo.

"Uncle Beazley" is hoisted onto a flatbed truck at the National Zoo.

Mehgan Murphy/Smithsonian Institution

"Uncle Beazley" will spend the next month at the Smithsonian's Office of Exhibits Central in Landover, Md., getting structural repairs and a makeover. He'll return to the National Zoo in mid-March.

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