Film Has Clues About Alma Mater's Real Color

Dec 11, 2013

Credit wikimedia

An 8-mm color film shot in the 1940's is offering some clues about the original color of a bronze statue that is a beloved landmark at the University of Illinois.  

The 84-year-old Alma Mater statue of a robed woman flanked by figures celebrating ``Learning'' and ``Labor'' is being restored. A heavy buildup of blue-green patina has disguised its original color for decades.  

Whether the original bronze will turn out to be brown, gray, or a mixture is a mystery.  
There are no color photos from around the time of its 1929 dedication.  
But a color film shot 70 years ago by an engineering graduate has surfaced.  

It's not definitive, but university archivist William Maher tells The (Champaign) News-Gazette that it appears to show Alma with a ``gunmetal'' color.