The Weirdest Public Sculptures

On Monday, Atlantic City unveiled a life-size effigy of Miss America, raising a question: Does the premier beauty pageant really merit a bronze statue? Plus, more odd public sculptures.

Wayne Parry/AP

Wayne Parry/AP

Miss America Statue (Atlantic City, New Jersey)

On Monday, Atlantic City unveiled a life-size bronze sculpture to commemorate the return of the Miss America Pageant last year after a five year stint in Las Vegas. Posed in a passing of the crown stance (which allows visitors to become winners, taking photos under the bronze tiara), the statue is loosely modeled after former winner Mallory Hagan, but also incorporates various features from previous Miss Americas. We're all about the premier beauty pageant, but we had to ask: does it really merit a public statue? Which got us thinking…what other wacky sculptures are out there, waiting for us to stumble across them?

Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge, via Getty

Boll Weevil Monument (Enterprise, Alabama)

From the late 1800s to the early 1900s, the boll weevil insect—sized at around a quarter of an inch long—caused a detrimental impact on cotton production in the southern region. So, why did this small, agricultural town erect a 13-foot tall sculpture commemorating the pesky beetle? The destruction of crops forced farmers to turn to peanuts, which turned out to be more profitable than cotton. They also began rotating their crops which resulted in richer, more fruitful soil and an economic resurgence county wide. Apparently, a bronze statue was the appropriate way to thank the fortuitous pest. 

Jeff Gentner/AP

Mothman Statue (Point Pleasant, West Virginia)

Allegedly terrorizing citizens and surviving off of locals' pets, the “Mothman” that hung around Point Pleasant, WV in 1966 was said to have been spotted by over 100 people and described as a seven-foot-tall insect/human hybrid with a ten-foot wing span. Documented by Fortean researcher John Keel for his 1975 book, The Mothman Prophecies, the legend became a blockbuster film in 2001 and immediately drew fans and monster seekers alike. So, the small city hopped on board opening a Mothman museum and erecting a 12-foot-tall Motham statue right in its town square.

Brian Cahn/Zuma

Statue of Liberation Through Christ (Memphis, Tennessee)

On July 4, 2006, Lady Liberty became a born again Christian. Standing over seven stories high, sculptor Ryan Bessant crafted an almost identical replica of the famous American symbol for the World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church in suburban Memphis. The only differences, the “Lord’s Lady Liberty” holds a giant cross instead of a torch as well as the Ten Commandments, her gold crown reads “Jehovah” across the front, and the visible tear is said to be symbolic of God’s dissatisfaction with the world today.

Toby Melville/Reuters

Vomiting Sculpture (London, England)

Seemingly stuck in a perpetual state of regurgitation, this sculpture in London depicts what seems to be a man encased in a stone, slumped over, with water forcefully projecting from his mouth. Klaus Weber, the artist who created the work, has had a long standing fascination with bodily functions. Obviously.

Krzysztof Dydynski/Getty

Proudy (Kafka Museum, Prague)

Artist David Cerny got a bit creative for his sculptures located at the entrance of the Kafka Museum in Prague. Set in bronze, two realistically shaped men stand facing each other full monty with a steady stream of water coming from their moving members. The water basin below the sculptures is molded in the shape of the Czech Republic. While the men’s movements seem random, they are actually writing messages in the water—ones that are dictated by onlookers who send the text in via a number posted next to the installation.

Stoyan Nenov/Reuters

Vigland Sculpture Arrangment (Oslo, Norway)

Celebrated sculptor Gustav Vigeland was given a nice incentive to leave his condemned home set to be demolished. The city of Oslo agreed to give the artist a new home and workshop as long as all of his subsequent works were donated to the city. For the following two decades, Vigland created more than 212 bronze and granite sculptures that now encompass the Vigeland Sculpture Arrangment in Frogner Park. Dealing with human relationships and interactions, most of the sculptures depict various activities like running, dancing, and hugging, but occasionally things get odd—like the giant statue of a man fighting off a gang of aggressive babies.

Guido Benschop/AFP/Getty

Santa Clause (Rotterdam, Netherlands)

Paul McCarthey is well known for his dark and twisted takes on seemingly innocent imagery. When the citizens of Rotterdam realized that the sculpture of Santa Claus they commissioned with him was holding a sex toy instead of Christmas tree, a long debate was sparked regarding whether or not it should be displayed publically or shielded in the confines of a museum. Ultimately, the sculpture was occasionally shifted around the city before ending up at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and labeled the “gnome with a buttplug” by locals.