Lynford Morton, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0
Lynford Morton, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

8 Times Sculptors Made Typos

Lynford Morton, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0
Lynford Morton, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

The good thing about writing is that errors can be fixed, but that is an option that sculptors do not often have. Poor planning and unexpected oversights on the part of an artist or plaque-maker working with words can lead to public mistakes that are sometimes impossible to fix because they are literally set in stone, bronze, or some other hard material. Here are a few examples of mistakes that were not caught in the design phase and had to be addressed later, after it was already too late.


Pruitt Allen, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Stone of Hope memorial for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was designed by the ROMA Design Group and selected by a panel of judges as a part of The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation competition back in the year 2000. In 2007, Chinese sculptor Lei Yixin was hired to bring the 30-foot-tall memorial to life, and in 2011 it was completed and unveiled on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.. Shortly after, a few people noticed that Dr. King had been misquoted in an inscription on the sculpture.

The inscription read, “I was a drum major for justice, peace, and righteousness.” According to the National Park Service website, the quote was paraphrased from a 1968 sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. The longer quote read, “If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”

Maya Angelou said that the quote, as it appeared on the sculpture, made King look like “an arrogant twit,” adding that he “was anything but that. He was far too profound a man for that four-letter word to apply ... the ‘if’ clause that is left out is salient. Leaving it out changes the meaning completely.” In 2013, the sculptor was asked to return to remove the quote entirely.


According to Baltimore Heritage, the Edgar Allan Poe statue that sits outside the University of Baltimore School of Law was commissioned in 1911 by the Edgar Allan Poe Memorial Association of Baltimore. Sculptor Moses Jacob Ezekiel made the model for the sculpture three times: The first time it was destroyed in a fire on its way to Berlin, the second time it was destroyed in an earthquake, and shipment of the third was delayed for years because of WWI. When the sculpture finally arrived in Baltimore in 1921, an inscription at the base incorrectly featured the word “dreaming” minus its “i,” and the word “mortal” was pluralized.

Ezekiel had passed away four years before the sculpture arrived, so he could not fix it, but someone did try. In 1930, a tree surgeon named Edmond Fontaine took a chisel and got rid of the “s” in “mortals” without permission. He was arrested and spent the night in jail, but was later let off with a warning. The statue was moved to its current location in 1982, but the base was in bad shape, so it was removed and a plaque with the fixed quote was added.


Lynford Morton, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

The National Park Service admits that the myth of there being a typo at the Lincoln Memorial is “partially true,” but one of the engravers definitely made a mistake that millions of visitors have seen. On the north wall of the memorial, the word “FUTURE” in Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address is misspelled as “EUTURE.” The bottom of the first letter was later filled in to correct the mistake, but it's easy to spot the repair.


In 2014, a sculpture was made in honor of WWII correspondent Ernie Pyle and installed in front of Indiana University's Media School in Pyle’s home state. The kind gesture was somewhat overshadowed by the fact that the sculptor, Tuck Langland, left an "r" out of the word “correspondent,” according to USA Today. The error was fixed in 2015 by Giorgio Gikas, a bronze artist and art conservator from Detroit.


Canadian artist Emily Carr, her dog Billy, and her pet monkey Woo were immortalized in bronze outside of the Empress Hotel in downtown Victoria, British Columbia, Canada in 2010. While onlookers admired the new $400,000 sculpture, others noticed that a nearby plaque contained a mistake. Instead of calling Carr “Victoria’s best known citizen,” the dedication read “best know citizen.” Barbara Paterson, the sculptor responsible for the sculpture but not the plaque, told CBC News she felt badly, as the committee had worked hard to raise funds for the memorial. “They thought they were dotting every 'i' and crossing every ['t']  ... But you know, if that's the only flaw in this whole huge long route, I think we're laughing.”


In 2013, a Norwegian artist blamed English language spellchecking software for the numerous mistakes that found their way onto a WWII memorial in Oslo. The Independent reported that the Pelle Monument was made to honor the country’s resistance fighters, with the names of dozens of saboteurs and others who lost their lives etched into it, but the other sections of the text are where the sculptor had issues. Norwegian words like “fellesskap” and the phrase “Oslo-området” were misspelled, and there were also grammatical errors throughout. “I hope it won’t get too much attention,” the sculptor (and daughter of a resistance fighter) Kirsten Kokkin said. “I worked on the text in America, and didn’t have a Norwegian word program. The text went through at least three people in addition to me. So this was missed, but it can’t be changed in retrospect.”


Premier of Ontario Photography, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In 2013, a 12-year-old boy named Joel Englund from Brampton, Ontario was the eagle-eyed fan who noticed that a statue of famed hockey player Wayne Gretzky, sculpted by Texas-based artist Brad Oldham and installed at Canada's Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre, had a few questionable elements. Englund pointed out that not only did Oldham misspell Gretzky’s name as "Gretzsky," but he also erroneously listed him as a player for the Detroit Red Wings.

Other errors on the sculpture included the wrong dates for his Stanley Cup wins, and the engraved names of people who had never played the sport, including Oscar Wilde and Kanye West. According to the Brampton Guardian, Gretzky himself attended the unveiling of the sculpture, but Englund was first to notice the mistakes a month later (for the artist’s part, he insisted that it was never intended to be read).


In 2015, a statue that was erected for the Pan American Games in Toronto to honor First Nations athlete Tom Longboat for his victory at the 1907 Boston Marathon made reference to his discipline, presence, and persistence ... only that last word was misspelled as “persistance.” "I think it would be kind of disrespectful for [the city] to leave it," a passerby told the Toronto Star. "I hope there aren’t any other mistakes on it, but they should change it."

Evening Standard/Getty Images
Pop Culture
Stanley Kubrick Photography Exhibition Opening at the Museum of the City of New York
Evening Standard/Getty Images
Evening Standard/Getty Images

Stanley Kubrick will forever be known as one of the most important film directors of the 20th century, but he started his career in the 1940s as a photojournalist for Look magazine. Now, the Museum of the City of New York will host a photographic exhibition of Kubrick’s early work, featuring 120 pictures from his time as a staff photographer at Look from 1945 to 1950.

Much of Kubrick’s work at the time revolved around daily life in New York City—the clubs, the commutes, and the sports. Some of his most notable pieces while at Look were his photo features on boxers Rocky Graziano and Walter Cartier, the latter of which became the subject of Kubrick’s first film, a 1951 documentary called Day of the Fight.

“Turning his camera on his native city, Kubrick found inspiration in New York's characters and settings, sometimes glamorous, sometimes gritty,” the museum wrote in a press release. “He produced work that was far ahead of his time and focused on themes that would inspire him through his creative life. Most importantly, his photography laid the technical and aesthetic foundations for his cinematography: he learned through the camera's lens to be an acute observer of human interactions and to tell stories through images in dynamic narrative sequences.”

Titled "Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs," the exhibition will detail the different themes that inspired Kubrick’s work, as well as guide patrons through his Look tenure, including both published and unpublished work. One of the exhibit’s goals is to provide an “examination of the direct connection between Kubrick the photographer and Kubrick the director.”

"Through a Different Lens" runs from Thursday, May 3 through October 28, 2018 at the Museum of the City of New York.

8 Expert Tips and Tricks for Hanging a Picture Right the First Time

Framed pictures are an inexpensive way to make a house feel like a home, and they can take a room from empty to finished-looking in minutes. They can be customized easily to your space and decor, and swapped out if your tastes change. But there is an art to hanging a picture the right way—without destroying your walls. Here’s what you need to know.


There are several steps you need to take before you get anywhere near a drill or hammer. First, consider two factors: the state of the wall you want to decorate, and the weight of the picture. Your wall may be supported by studs, which are pieces of wood or metal that run vertically behind the wall every couple of feet. Screwing directly into a stud can provide more support for hanging items.

If you have a reinforced wall, you could use a basic nail or screw to hang the frame, as long as you insert the nail or screw firmly into a stud. But you should only ever use a nail if you're hanging on a stud, according to Simon Taylor, owner-operator of T&C Carpentry in Whitby, Ontario. Otherwise, the weight of the picture could rip the nail out of the wall.

No stud? No problem. "If the picture is light, then a product like Monkey Hooks"—a kind of cantilevered hook for unreinforced walls—"work great," Taylor says.

For medium to heavy pictures, use wall anchors, which are plastic or metal inserts that provide more support for screwing into an unreinforced wall. There are many styles and strengths available for different materials and weights. “Using a product like E-Z Ancors is an easy way to fix a screw to drywall where there is no stud to screw into. They are strong and easy to install,” Taylor tells Mental Floss. “You can then thread a screw into them to hang your picture, providing it has a hook on the back or a string. A good rule to follow is not to use anything other than an anchor if you are not screwing directly into a stud or backing.” (Plastic wall anchors are fine for most lightweight projects, but for a really heavy picture, or a wall made out of something besides drywall, you'll need a different type of anchor.)

If you’re renting and don't want to damage the walls of your apartment, or you’re not 100 percent committed to the picture's placement, Taylor recommends a non-nail option like the extremely popular 3M Command adhesive hooks. They provide temporary, hole-free hanging and hold strong without peeling paint off the wall when it comes time to remove them.

Others argue that stick-on hooks can be unreliable, especially for heavier frames. “All picture-hanging hardware should really include some type of component that punctures the wall,” says Claire Wheeler, design and project coordinator for Montreal-based Sajo Inc. “This provides a much more secure hanging system than a hanging system that is surface-applied.” The adhesives on these types of products are more likely to fail than any sort of nail or anchored hardware, she tells Mental Floss.


Wheeler says your hanging hardware depends on the size and weight of the frame. Fortunately, most frame manufacturers include some form of hanger on the back of their products.

While she finds that hook tabs (small triangular hangers on ready-to-use frames) work for hanging lighter pictures, a wire system—two anchor points on the back of the frame and a strong wire strung between them for looping over the wall screw or hook—is the better choice for hanging large and/or heavy pictures. The wire system setup allows the weight of the frame to be distributed evenly along the wire for more secure hanging, rather than placing all the weight of the frame on one small hanger point.

“You will notice that most frames, whether you have purchased them in a store or you've had them custom-made, have hardware already installed at the back. It’s usually a pretty safe bet to use what the manufacturer has provided,” Wheeler says.

To hang a picture without the need for advanced math, start with a center hanging point: a hook tab affixed in the appropriate spot, or, if your frame has two tabs on either side of the frame, a wire strung slackly between them.


Assemble all of the gear before you spring into action. In addition to your framed artwork, you'll need the proper hanging apparatus for your project (see #1) and a hammer for pounding in the wall anchor or nail. Use a power drill or screwdriver to insert screws in the wall anchor, if you're using one. A tape measure makes it easier to calculate the right spot for hanging. A sturdy wire for the back of your frame is optional (see #2). And the best way to ensure your picture will be level is to, well, use a level. “A level is a basic tool everyone should have,” Wheeler says. “If you own a hammer, you should own a level.”


Wheeler says you should play around with the height at which you plan on installing the frame: “As a general rule, eye level should land within the bottom half of the frame,” she says.

From a designer’s perspective, Wheeler finds people often choose pictures that are either too big or too small in proportion to the wall area. “You want the picture to have some space to 'breathe,' so to speak, meaning a wall large enough that it doesn’t feel as though the picture is overcrowding the wall," she says. "On the flip side, you also don’t want a picture to look completely lost on a big wall."

She adds, "Proportion is important, but there’s no specific ratio" of picture size to wall area that could be considered a rule of thumb. Ultimately, you're the best judge of your space.


Place the frame against the wall where you want it to hang. "It’s a good idea to have someone with you to judge if it is in the right place," Taylor says. "Having a view of it in place before it’s 'fixed' to the wall will help you decide if it looks right."

After you've picked your spot, draw a short line with a pencil along the center of the frame's top edge as your reference line. If you're hanging a really large picture, get your assistant to hold it in place while you draw.


Lay the frame face-down on a flat surface. Place your wall fastener, such as the wall anchor or Command hook, in the appropriate hook tab or on the wire on the back of the frame and pull the wire taut. With a tape measure, measure the distance from the top edge of the frame to the center of the fastener.


Now back to the wall: Measure the same distance from the center of your penciled reference line down. Mark that spot with your pencil: That's where you're going to install your fastener.

If you're not using a wall anchor, simply affix an adhesive hook, hammer in a nail, or insert a Monkey Hook.

To install an anchor, drill a hole into the wall at the penciled point with a screw that is narrower than the anchor itself. (You don't want the anchor to be too loose in the wall.) Don't screw it too tightly. Next, reverse the drill's direction and pull the screw out. Insert the anchor, hammering it flush against the wall. Finally, drill the screw into the anchor—this action makes the anchor expand slightly and press against the drywall's innards, creating a more secure fit. Be sure to leave a bit of space between the screw's head and the wall so the picture's wire can be hooked over the screw. Hang the picture.


To make sure your picture is straight, rest the level along the top of the frame, against the wall. Then, adjust until the air bubble within the small tube of water is in the center of the tube, which indicates that the bar is parallel to the floor—and, therefore, that your picture is level.

Taylor says that not using a level and assuming the hanging hardware is set evenly on the back of a frame are the two biggest mistakes he sees people make. Pros often use laser levels, but Taylor says a water level will work just as well for most people.

Need some inspirations to get started? Consider hanging a few classic movie posters, printed patents for famed inventions, or a guide to cats.


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