Forward (statue) Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forward_(statue)

Left: 1893 original statue. Right: 1996 replica

Forward is an 1893 bronze statue by American sculptor Jean Pond Miner Coburn depicting an embodiment of Wisconsin's "Forward" motto. The 1996 replica was located at the Wisconsin State Capitol grounds at the top of State Street before it was vandalized in 2020. The statue often is misidentified with the Wisconsin statue on top of the Capitol dome.[1]


During the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, Miner and Helen Farnsworth Mears were named artists-in-residence at the Wisconsin Building. At that time, Miner was commissioned to create a work of art representing the state.

She created Forward; "Forward" is the motto of the state of Wisconsin. A souvenir pamphlet from the Exposition described the statue as representing "a female figure standing upon the prow of a boat, the figurehead of which is 'Old Abe.' The boat is surging through the water, and the figure, poised gracefully but firmly upon the prow, stretches forth the right hand, while the left clasps the American flag to its bosom."[2] Miner had originally planned to cast it in copper, her funds ran out and the statue remained in its bronze form.[2]

The statue was afterward purchased by women's suffrage organizations and "presented to the state of Wisconsin on behalf of the women's suffrage movement.[3]

The statue was housed inside the Wisconsin State Capitol from 1893 to 1904. The sculpture was moved outdoors on the Capitol grounds in 1905.[4] For a century the statue, made out of bronze, stood on the Wisconsin State Capitol grounds, slowly deteriorating. In 1996, several women's groups and "women of Wisconsin" raised the funds to have the work cast in bronze. This was placed on the Capitol grounds while the original was placed in the lobby of the Wisconsin Historical Society building on the campus of the University of Wisconsin–Madison.[5][6]

2020 replica vandalism[edit]

On June 23, 2020, Forward (the replica) and a Hans Christian Heg statue were toppled by protesters following the arrest of a Black Lives Matter activist.[7] The fall of the statue was characterized as a strategic political move by one of the protesters.[8] Both statues were later recovered by the authorities,[9] though Heg's statue lost a head and leg.[10]

At a July 20, 2020 meeting of the Wisconsin Capitol and Executive Residence Board, the board voted unanimously to restore both Heg's statue and Forward to their original condition and placement atop their pedestals.[11] The state of Wisconsin received a grant of $30,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities the following October towards the expense of repairing of both the Heg and Forward statues. The statues were taken to Detroit where restoration will be done by Venus Bronze Works Inc. with reinstallation on the Capitol grounds anticipated by July 2021.[12][13]


  1. ^ Davidoff, Judith (2017-06-29). "Will the real (Miss) Forward stand up?". Isthmus | Madison, Wisconsin. Retrieved 2021-05-26.
  2. ^ a b "'Forward' Statue". Wisconsin Historical Society. 2012-10-19. Retrieved 2021-06-01.
  3. ^ Gwyn, Guenther (2019-11-05). "2019 Capitol Ornament – Forward". The Wheeler Report #LocalGovMatters. p. Timestamp 16:00. Retrieved 2020-06-25.
  4. ^ "Forward, (sculpture)". siris-artinventories.si.edu. Retrieved 2021-06-01.
  5. ^ Beajer and Style, Public Sculpture in Wisconsin: An Atlas of Outdoor Monuments, Memorials and Masterpieces in the Badger State, SOS! Wisconsin, Save Outdoor Sculpture and Fine Arts Conservation Services, Madison Wisconsin, 1999 p. 24
  6. ^ Rubenstein, Charlotte Streifer, American Women Sculptors: A History of Women Working in Three Dimensions, G. K. Hall and Co. Boston, 1990 p. 123
  7. ^ Spicuzza, Mary (June 24, 2020). "What to know about the Forward statue that was toppled during Madison protests". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  8. ^ Meyerhofer, Kelly.'Strategic' or 'misguided'? Toppling of statues sparks latest debate on Madison protests Wisconsin State Journal, June 24, 2020.
  9. ^ "Twitter". mobile.twitter.com. Retrieved Jun 25, 2020.
  10. ^ Pavia, Will (June 25, 2020). "Statue of Colonel Hans Christian Heg, who helped defeat slavery, is toppled". The Times. Retrieved June 29, 2020.
  11. ^ Richmond, Todd (20 July 2020). "Board OKs restoring Capitol statues, launching money drive". Associated Press, The Star Tribune. Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  12. ^ Jones, Meg; Beck, Molly (October 16, 2020). "Wisconsin gets federal funds to help restore vandalized Capitol statues Forward and Hans Christian Heg | The National Endowment for the Humanities". The National Endowment for the Humanities. Archived from the original on November 11, 2020. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  13. ^ Glauber, Bill (December 10, 2020). "Crew works to restore toppled statue of Col. Hans Christian Heg by next summer". The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved December 11, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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