Penguins in the Fountain Court

Autochrome of the 1927 installation, MAG Archives.

In May 1927, the Garden Club of Rochester filled the Fountain Court with greenery and Blanca Will’s Penguins. Nestled among the plants, the original plaster models of the penguins frolicked joyously.

Will, an instructor of modeling at the Gallery and later its director of art instruction, is reported to have made the creatures as part of a commission by Claude Bragdon to create a fountain for Highland Park, but when the project fell through, the penguins needed a new home.

Much later they were cast in bronze and given to the Memorial Art Gallery by the artist’s family, an effort encouraged by Barbara Will Reichart, Will’s niece. They were installed in the small garden east of the Gallery’s 1913 building in 1990.