Bird of Peace, 1963 (installed 1970)
Near the fieldhouse
1355 East 53rd Street
Also known as “Guarding the Nest,” this 5-foot tall ovoid bronze form is one of Hyde Park’s best-known sculptures. Sculptor Cosmo Campoli (1923-1997), who grew up on a farm in Indiana, recalled seeing chicks hatch as a child and once declared the “the egg is the most exquisite shape there is. You hold one in your hand and you are holding the whole universe.” He created the work in 1963 and kept it in his Hyde Park home until the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference suggested that it be installed in Nichols Park and helped raise funds to do so. The egg-shaped beaked bird, holding two eggs in its claws, has a satin finish and appears perched on its rough granite base, suggestive of a bird’s nest. The piece was dedicated on June 3, 1970.
Campoli’s Bird of Peace has had anything but a peaceful existence, however, since its installation in the park. In 1981, the work was stolen and vandalized, subsequently recovered but in need of repair. Local residents raised money and repairs began in March 1983. In winter of 2000, the steel pins holding the sculpture to the base were sawn through and the bronze was rolled behind an apartment building on Kimbark Avenue, only to be tracked down later by a neighborhood dog. In the process, the sculpture was badly dented and scratched, requiring $10,000 in careful restoration. Chicago-based conservator Andrzej Dajnowski completed the repairs, involving wax-and-torch chasing and careful sanding to restore the patina of the damaged areas. The piece was reinstalled in September 2004, with tougher titanium steel rods, and rededicated under an archway in Nichols Park on March 19, 2005.