“Myrtle the Turtle” is moving. Slightly.
The 4-foot-long bronze sea turtle sculpture at Myrtle Street Playground in Beacon Hill is inching over to a less accessible spot inside the playground’s garden area.
Earlier this summer, some parents complained that their children were being burned by the sculpture’s hot surface. The sculpture will now be a decorative fixture rather than a climbing structure for kids, according to Liz Sullivan, director of external affairs and marketing for the Boston Parks and Recreation Department. There will be a 30-inch fence around the garden bed where the turtle will be placed.
“Consensus was reached between the friends of the Myrtle Street Playground, Friends of the Beacon Hill Garden Club, and some local parents groups,” Sullivan said. “And it will be shaded by a tree canopy.”
In June, parents had expressed safety concerns to the city about how hot the bronze of the sculpture got under the sun. One parent complained that the surface of the turtle easily reached over 100 degrees on some summer days.
After the complaints, Boston Parks and Recreation wrapped the turtle in a tarp and said it was considering putting up a canopy to prevent the sculpture from heating up in the sun.
The turtle was created by Nancy Schön, the same artist who created the iconic “Make Way for Ducklings” sculpture and the “Tortoise and the Hare” in Copley Square as well as several other sculptures around city. The sculpture was based on one of the New England Aquarium’s oldest inhabitants by the same name who has been in the aquarium’s Giant Ocean Tank for more than 45 years.
Schön says she’s glad the sculpture will remain in the playground, but upset that this controversy happened at all.
“It’s sort of a knee-jerk reaction pandering to a minority of interests,” she says.
She says that her “Tortoise and Hare” sculpture in Copley Square has been in a place of direct sun since 1995 and she’s never received a complaint.
“Sculptures get hot. Parents should perhaps say to their children, ‘Alright, you’re hot. Now you’ve learned something.’ … Children have to learn. So if a child puts their hand on something hot, they usually learn, it’s hot.”
The artist says that it doesn’t make sense that the parents who raised concerns wanted to remove the sculpture. “It makes me feel that these mothers thought I was doing something that was opposed to children, and if one knows about my work, it’s that kids love what I do,” she says. “And they have great pleasure. So at least the sculpture will still be there.”
Boston Parks and Recreation Department has reviewed and approved the plans for moving the sculpture to the garden area. The Beacon Hill Garden Club is funding and managing the installation.
With reporting by WBUR’s newscast unit.