IU Fish Sculpture Theft Prompts Talk of More Cameras on Campus

The theft of a bronze fish from an Indiana University fountain may not lead to the heeding of calls for more security cameras across the Bloomington campus.

  • Showalter Fountain

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    Photo: Jason Pear

    Showalter Fountain, site of the theft of a bronze fish which was part of Robert Laurent's "Birth of Venus" sculpture (seen here).

  • Showalter Fountain Fish

    Image 2 of 2

    Photo: Jason Pear

    Two of the five remaining fish in Showalter Fountain, following the theft of one such sculpture in early August.

The theft of a bronze fish from an Indiana University fountain may not lead to the heeding of calls for more security cameras across the Bloomington campus, even though additional cameras and other security measures had been considered prior to the fish’s departure.

The IU Office of Risk Management is tasked with overseeing security of artwork like Robert Laurent’s “Birth of Venus” sculpture in Showalter Fountain.  So when one of the six fish in the sculpture went missing earlier this month, Curator of Campus Art Sherry Rouse thought back to discussions which took place following the return of two stolen fish in the wake of the firing of basketball coach Bobby Knight a decade ago.

“We’ve discussed GPS systems, we’ve discussed cameras and it just never has gone the whole way to get it done,” Rouse said.  “So I’m hoping maybe this time we will.”

University spokesman Larry MacIntyre said the school does have cameras, but declined to say how many or where they are located.  Macintyre says even if a camera was to be trained on the fountain, it would be just a single part of a larger system.

“We wouldn’t just say ‘Oh, we’ve got to do security cameras’,” MacIntyre said.  “Security cameras are part of a much bigger piece of the puzzle.  And while we certainly regret that vandals or whoever have taken that fish, that’s probably not the most important piece of the security puzzle that we’re looking at.”

Rouse says she’d like to see a camera mounted on the IU art museum, which overlooks the fountain.  She says guards staff the building at all hours and already monitor a bank of security feeds.  In addition, Rouse says her department would agree not to prosecute whoever brings back the fish.  Macintyre says the decision of whether to press charges will be left to IU police.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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