'World's largest bronze gorilla sculpture' comes to Bruce Museum in Greenwich

Published April 24

A crane lifted a nearly 5,000-pound, 23-foot-long and 8.5-foot-tall bronze gorilla sculpture off of a truck and into its new home in the outdoor space of the Bruce Museumin Greenwich on Tuesday. It's billed as the "world’s largest bronze gorilla sculpture."
The sculpture, named King Nyani, was created by public artists and husband-and-wife duo Gillie Schattner and Marc Schattner, who were inspired by a silverback mountain gorilla they met during a trip to Uganda, according to a news release by the museum. After witnessing the gorilla show "kindness and compassion" towards its family, the Schattners aimed to create pieces of art that focused on the gentler nature of the creatures rather than the violent one they are portrayed as having in films like "King Kong." Its name comes from the Swahili translation for gorilla, according to the Bruce Museum.
The sculpture is on loan to the museum through 2027 thanks to anonymous donors. Bruce Museum Board of Trustees Treasurer Becky Gillan said the sculpture was a good fit for the museum, which aims to teach guests about art and science. She said the museum will most likely plan programs based around the sculpture in the future, which may feature scientists who work with gorillas. 
"We are about discovery and wonder, but fun is also important," Gillan said. "The donors felt this gorilla would be so wonderful for children and families to come and just have a good time."

King Nyani is lying down on his side with an open palm that is designed to be able to hold one or two people. The palm interaction aims to make visitors feel close to King Nyani and want to take action to protect wild gorillas. Mountain gorillas are classified as endangered by the International Union of the Conservation of Nature and are threatened by factors such as hunting, human conflict and trade, the organization's website reads

"In the movie, Kong picks up Ann in his hand to protect her. Now all of New York is invited to sit in his hand, where it’s our turn to protect him," the artists' website says. 

Gillan said they arranged for the flatbed truck to transport King Nyani to the museum "months in advance." While the move is a long process, the museum is used to transporting artwork using similar methods. 

"It's a little unusual; we don't get gorillas every day. But it's not something they don't know how to do," Gillan said.

The piece at the Bruce Museum is just one of three versions of King Nyani that the Schattners created; one of them is on display at Brookfield Zoo Chicago and another is at the Taronga Zoo Sydney in Australia.

Aside from the King Nyani statues, the Schattners have created large bronze sculptures of other animals, including elephants, hippos, rhinos and giraffes. Many of their pieces aim to raise awareness about endangered animals, their website reads. Their work has been displayed across the world, including in the United Kingdom, Australia, the United States and Singapore.