North Dakota Museum of Art fundraising to replace stolen sculpture

GRAND FORKS — The North Dakota Museum of Art is raising money to replace a sculpture that went missing from the property in late October.

The “Garden Wheel,” a sculpture by Elizabeth MacDonald from Connecticut, was acquired by the museum in 1998.

Museum staff noticed its disappearance after Halloween.

“I think, initially, a lot of people felt like this was a Halloween prank and that it would eventually come back,” said Matthew Wallace, director of the Museum.

However, the sculpture has now been missing for nearly three months.


Wallace recently started a GoFundMe fundraiser with a $10,000 goal. The donations will be used to commission a replacement sculpture and ship it to North Dakota.

Within a few days, the fundraiser earned almost $400.

“Our preference is to commission Elizabeth MacDonald to replace her original sculpture. In the event that this is not possible, we will expand our search for a suitable sculpture for the space,” Wallace wrote on the GoFundMe page.

The Museum is working with the UND Police Department to install security cameras “to make the new sculpture more difficult to steal,” Wallace noted.

Wallace wrote that the Museum renovated its garden last spring to “highlight more outdoor works from the collection,” including the Garden Wheel.

The sculpture, a seasonal piece, was brought inside during colder months and reinstalled outdoors each spring.

“That piece was really the focal point of the sculpture garden,” Wallace said.

According to Wallace, the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Office scanned the English Coulee for the sculpture but didn’t find the sculpture. The UND Police Department has also done “extensive” searching in the area, Wallace said, and the investigation continues.


“We’re very grateful for the public support. There has been an outpouring of support, not only from Grand Forks and North Dakota but from all over the country. I think everyone is, sort of, dismayed by the fact that someone would take a public sculpture,” Wallace said.

The GoFundMe was started as the Museum tries to prepare for the spring.

“We’re looking forward to spring and moving ahead, but we would still like to have that sculpture back, if possible,” Wallace said.

The Museum is offering a $1,000 reward — with no questions asked — for anyone who returns the sculpture or provides information regarding its whereabouts.