Make Way for Nancy:

A Life in Public Art

The indefatigable Nancy Schön is best-known for her iconic Make Way for Ducklings sculpture in the Boston Public Garden. Based on Robert McCloskey’s book, visited by thousands of children and adults every year, it has become as familiar and beloved a Boston landmark as the swan boats and the gold dome of the State House. Now she tells the story not only of how the ducks came to Boston (along with the multiple political, artistic, and personal challenges involved) but also how they traveled to Moscow, championed by Barbara Bush and Raisa Gorbachev, to mark the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

Although Nancy came to public art late in life, she more than made up for it. Tortoise and the Hare in Boston’s Copley Square greet Boston Marathon runners as they cross the finish line, McCloskey’s Sal’s Bear graces Maine’s Botanical Gardens, as do Lentil and His Dog in Hamilton, Ohio. Each of them posed unique challenges and each generated original, unforgettable results. Here the focus is on her major public projects and commissions: how they came about, and who, and what, inspired them. The book is hands-on. She explains what goes into making a beautiful and tactile work of public art, from the wax maquettes to the casting in bronze, from dealing with budgets and logistics to the diplomacy required for dealing with public places and elected officials. Her story offers encouragement to anyone trying to express themselves, whether artist, athlete, dancer, musician or writer, for she demonstrates that drive and determination (when coupled with an undeniable talent) can overcome any roadblock and produce remarkable results. This book is entertaining, informative, and inspirational. It will appeal to art lovers, park lovers, animal lovers, and lovers of stories about remarkable women.

A dual sense of joy and vitality pervades the pages, an impulse to create pieces that people, particularly children, can physically engage with, sit upon, and climb around.
—The Boston Globe

Fans of your sculptures will be glad to have it and many artists will find it inspirational. David Godine did his usual elegant job, too. It’s one of those books that you want to hold in hand the minute you see it.
—Leonard Marcus, children’s book critic and author

Nancy Schön is a sculptor of internationally displayed art, but she is best known for her work in Massachusetts. She has six sculpture installations in Boston, including Make Way for Ducklings in the Public Garden and Tortoise and the Hare in Copley Square. She was educated at the Museum School in Boston but currently resides in Newton.