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Design A Canopy, Plant Trees, Make A Move? What To Do With A Turtle Sculpture 'Burning' Its Tiny Climbers

Nancy Schön sits atop her sculpture "Myrtle the Turtle" last month. (Courtesy New England Aquarium)
Nancy Schön sits atop her sculpture "Myrtle the Turtle" last month. (Courtesy New England Aquarium)

Artist Nancy Schön wants her sculpture of "Myrtle the Turtle" to stay put in the Beacon Hill playground where it was installed last month. The city of Boston is considering what to do after multiple complaints were made about the bronze sculpture burning kids touching it.

Complaints made to the city's 311 system since Saturday complained of a child burning his finger and the turtle reaching a surface temperature of 133 degrees.

Earlier this week, workers wrapped the turtle in a blue tarp to prevent would-be-climbers. On Tuesday afternoon, the city's website said that a playground design firm is designing "a shade structure" for the sculpture.

Boston Parks and Recreation spokesman Ryan Woods said the playground is in a historic district, so, in order to put up a canopy or change a design, his department would need written approval, which the city is considering.

“Right now, we are working with a contractor to see if it could be removed or is that the best place for it to be, whether if we remove the sculpture for the time being until we can get the proper cover over it,” Woods said.

Ultimately, he said, the Parks Department's main goal is to make sure people feel welcome and safe coming to the city's green spaces.

Schön, known for her "Make Way for Ducklings" sculptures in the Public Garden, said she used the same material for both the ducklings and the turtle but that there are other solutions than removing the sculpture. She offered a solution to the temperature concern, referencing what she said the city did when the ducklings first entered the Public Garden.

“The ducks were very hot because there was nothing around them. Now they are covered with trees. And in time, we could plant some beautiful, lovely shrubs around this sculpture,” Schön said.

The artist expressed concern about the heat issue, but wants the sculpture to live on.

“I have done sculptures all over the world, and I would hope that Myrtle would have the same wonderful history, and children would remember sitting on [the turtle],” Schön said.

The turtle was installed for the Beacon Hill Garden Club's 90th anniversary gift to the city.

"Myrtle was well received in the community, but to our surprise becomes quite hot to the touch during afternoon sun," said John David Corey, a Beacon Hill Civic Association Board member. "Probably not uncommon, but not predicted or anticipated in our neighborhood playground. There are trees in the park offering dabbled sunlight, but from my studying other bronze play objects around the city, it seems that a simple shade structure would work well here,” Corey said.

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Jim Foley Twitter Writer
Jim Foley is a contributing writer and producer to WBUR's Newscast Unit.

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