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The Tortoise and the Hare, as Sculpted by Nancy Schön

Brass tortoise and hare on trails

Chicks and frogs, caterpillars and butterflies, tortoises and hares. In the midst of a blooming spring season, let’s take a look at one of our outdoor sculptures: Tortoise and Hare by artist Nancy Schön.


About Nancy Schön

Nancy Schön is a Boston-based sculptor well known for her whimsical, engaging representations of humans and animals―often from well-loved works of children’s literature. She has recreated Make Way for Ducklings in the Boston Public Garden, the bear from Blueberries for Sal in the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, and Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, and Eeyore at the Newton Free Library, in Newton, Massachusetts. She also developed a series of 24 bronze sculptures based on animal characters from Aesop’s Fables, including Tortoise and Hare.

Make Way for Ducklings by Nancy Schön. Boston Public Garden, Boston, Massachusetts. Image by Rizka, Wikimedia Commons,,_Boston_Public_Garden,_Boston,_Massachusetts.JPG.

Schön has largely used cast bronze to create her Public Art sculptures. According to the artist, “I use bronze as a material to cast my sculptures as it is durable…and blends with other materials that surrounding buildings might be made of. It has a wonderfully tactile quality and happily sparkles in the sunlight.”


Inspiration for Tortoise and Hare

Although Tortoise and Hare can be found at Crystal Bridges, a similar sculpture can also be found at Copley Square in Boston. Schön originally created this sculpture as a tribute to all the runners from around the world who have participated in the Boston Marathon.

As Schön explains: 

“The Boston Marathon has been part of my life as long ago as I can remember. At that time, there were no water stops, so we would go to Heartbreak Hill and hand out water and orange slices to the men (there were only men at that time) as they sweated and pulled themselves up that long hill. They knew that if they could manage that hill, they might be able to finish the race. Many runners don’t finish for the time, they run for the challenge of finishing. The tortoise speaks to that strength and persistence.

I wanted to create a sculpture that would also attract children, yet have meaning for the race. The fable of The Tortoise and the Hare by Aesop was the perfect metaphor for the wide variety of people from all over the world who participate in the marathon, people of all ages, shapes and size, many of whom are proud just to walk over the finish line.”


Nancy Schön, Tortoise and Hare, 2009, Tortoise: 29 x 29 x 60 in., Hare: 36 x 24 x 29 in., silicon bronze, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2009.8.


Tortoise and Hare can be found on the Art Trail at the Crystal Bridges entrance south of the museum (near James Turrell’s Skyspace). Just as the story goes, the tortoise made it to the entrance of Crystal Bridges first! The hare is found on the grass behind him. Enjoy the sculpture and the beautiful blooms along the trail during the spring season!


The Story of The Tortoise and the Hare

Enjoy the story of The Tortoise and the Hare by Aesop in the video below, featuring a smaller bronze sculpture of the characters, also created by Schön:



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