Amelia Earhart statue now stands in U.S. Capitol

Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation Press Release | August 2, 2022

Estimated reading time 13 minutes, 14 seconds.

A bronze statue of Amelia Earhart, solely funded by the Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation, was unveiled today during a Congressional Ceremony in National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Earhart is now one of only 11 women represented among 100 statues (two from each state) that comprise the National Statuary Hall Collection. Video of the ceremony is available here.

“As a pioneering force in aviation and for gender equality, Amelia Earhart captivated the world with her extraordinary bravery, unwavering perseverance and daring determination to defy the odds and pursue her dream of flight,” said Karen Seaberg, founder and president of the Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation. “Her statue now stands at the U.S. Capitol as an inspiring symbol to encourage others — especially women and girls — to boldly pursue their own dreams.”

Earhart is now one of only 11 women represented among 100 statues (two from each state) that comprise the National Statuary Hall Collection. Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation Photo

Following the private dedication ceremony, the Foundation hosted a celebratory reception on Capitol Hill for members of the Earhart family, prominent Kansans and aviation and aerospace industry leaders that was sponsored by Blue Origin,  Spirit AeroSystems and Textron Aviation, along with Airbus Americas, Inc., and other aviation industry partners.

“It’s been a great honor to lead this effort to bring Amelia Earhart’s statue to the Capitol during this 90th anniversary year since she made history as the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean,” said Jacque Pregont, Foundation board member and chair of the Amelia Earhart Statuary Hall Selection Committee. “This year also marks 125 years since Amelia was born on July 24, 1897, in Atchison, Kan. — where her dream of flight began.”

Sculptors George and Mark Lundeen: A genuine portrayal of Earhart

Reviewing over 50 proposals from across the country, the Amelia Earhart Statuary Hall Selection Committee selected nationally renowned sculptors George and Mark Lundeen. The Lundeen brothers performed all sculpting, welding and finishing work on the seven-foot bronze ‘Amelia’ in their Loveland, Colorado, studios. With invaluable perspectives from the Earhart family, the Lundeens focused on a genuine portrayal of Amelia. “In our initial clay designs, we had Amelia wearing jodhpurs, laced boots, her leather jacket, flying

cap and goggles,” said George Lundeen. “Yet in our conversations with the Earhart family, they shared how they didn’t want an ‘iconic’ portrayal of Amelia but rather to see her in how she most often, and most preferred, to dress: in trousers with a belt and sturdy shoes.”

Researching thousands of Earhart photos and videos, the Lundeens studied not only her clothing, but also her facial expressions and stance. “We captured her as she often stood, in a gentle breeze, looking toward the sky with a hint of a squint in her eyes, her scarf about to blow over her shoulder…as if she’s getting ready to fly,” said George.

Relaxed confidence that captured the world’s admiration

“We positioned Amelia standing with one foot slightly forward, one hand casually tucked in a pocket of her favorite leather jacket — the other holding her leather flying cap and goggles — to convey that approachable, relaxed confidence that captured the world’s admiration,” said Mark Lundeen. They encourage visitors to look closely to see a creative addition (something Amelia did not own but imagine she would have liked): a sunflower — the Kansas state flower — on Earhart’s bronze belt buckle.

The Lundeens won the Earhart family’s approval. “Amelia is rightly celebrated for the courage, skill and drive that led her to fly higher and farther than anyone ever had,” said Earhart’s great-nephew, Bram Kleppner. “But that’s only part of the story. She also worked for years to advance women’s rights, personally lobbying President Hoover to advance the Equal Rights Amendment and tirelessly promoting education and careers for women. George and Mark Lundeen’s statue really captures Amelia’s adventurous spirit, her work for equality, and that rare combination of charisma and quiet confidence that made her such an icon.”

“Statues can have a powerful influence on culture, standing as enduring symbols of our values, hopes and dreams,” added George. “That’s why it’s been a real honor to bring Amelia Earhart to National Statuary Hall where her presence will have a positive influence on the many people, especially younger generations, who tour the Capitol every year.”

The bronze statue of Amelia Earhart was unveiled during a Congressional Ceremony in National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation Photo

The Lundeens recently completed a bronze statue of Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, that was unveiled on June 17 at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in New York. The duo, along with sculptor Joey Bainer, created the bronze statues at Space Center Houston depicting the safe return on April 17, 1970, of the Apollo 13 astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise. For the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Lundeens sculpted a bronze tribute to the Apollo 11 mission depicting the first astronauts to land on the moon on July 20, 1969: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. A statue of John L. Swigert, Jr. created by the Lundeens stands in National Statuary Hall for the State of Colorado.

Limestone pedestal quarried in Kansas

The bronze Amelia Earhart stands on a three-foot pedestal made of Cottonwood Limestone, notably quarried in Kansas. Designed by Carthage Stoneworks in Kansas City, Mo., Earhart’s pedestal is unlike older pedestals carved from a block of stone. To lessen the weight on the Capitol’s older, often uneven floors, Earhart’s pedestal is comprised of 14 limestone pieces designed around an internal steel structure that is connected to adjustable feet. The front plaque can be removed to more efficiently level or move the statue.

Destined for decades to the U.S. Capitol

Amelia Earhart has been destined for the U.S. Capitol Building for more than two decades. In 1999, the Kansas State Legislature voted to replace both of its statues in the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall Collection with President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Amelia Earhart. The bronze statue of Eisenhower was installed in the Capitol Rotunda in 2003, replacing former Kansas Gov. George Washington Glick. Earhart will replace the marble statue of former Kansas U.S. Senator John James Ingalls in National Statuary Hall, installed in 1905.

Although the Foundation was formed in 2016, Seaberg and Pregont have been leading the Earhart statue project since 2013 when they formed the Amelia Earhart Statuary Hall Selection Committee and led anational RFP process to select a qualified sculptor, with members including:

  • Jacque Pregont, Committee Chair — Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation (Board Member); Amelia Earhart Festival (Coordinator)
  • Karen Seaberg — Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation (Board President); Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum (Founder and President); Atchison Amelia Earhart Festival (Chair); MGP Ingredients (Chairman of the Board)
  • Rick Berger — The Berger Company (CEO) 
  • Lynette Long — Equal Visibility Everywhere (Founder and President)
  • Amy M. Kleppner — Niece of Amelia Earhart
  • Martha Phillips — The Ninety-Nines, Inc: International Organization of Women Pilots (Past President)
  • Virginia Treanor — National Museum of Women in the Arts (Associate Curator)
  • Patricia McDonnell — Wichita Art Museum (Director)
  • Saralyn Reece Hardy — Spencer Museum of Art at The University of Kansas (Director)

“The Foundation is grateful for the tremendous support to navigate Earhart’s long journey to the Capitol,” said Pregont. “We especially appreciate the expertise from Matt Smith, exhibition design manager at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo., who tirelessly offered guidance to ensure our success.”

Earhart’s enduring legacy continues with state-of-the-art STEM museum

The Foundation is also leading a capital campaign to build the new state-of-the-art Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum —opening in 2023 — at the Amelia Earhart Memorial Airport (K59) in Atchison, Kan. A “twin” bronze statue of the one in National Statuary Hall will be placed at the Museum’s entrance.

The Museum’s centerpiece is “Muriel” — the world’s last remaining Lockheed Electra 10-E that is identical to the plane Earhart flew on her final flight. Named after Earhart’s younger sister, Grace Muriel Earhart Morrissey, “Muriel” is one of only 14 Lockheed Electra 10-E aircrafts ever made. Working in partnership with Kansas-based Dimensional Innovations, the Museum will immerse visitors in Earhart’s pioneering life, from growing up in Atchison to the height of her worldwide fame. When complete, the Museum will apply to become an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. “We’re proud to see Earhart’s magnificent statue finally standing in her rightful place in the U.S. Capitol and are looking forward to her ‘twin’ statue welcoming visitors to the Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum in her hometown of Atchison, Kansas,” said Seaberg. “We are committed to Amelia’s enduring legacy that continues to be relevant today and will undoubtedly inspire generations to come.”

This press release was prepared and distributed by Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation

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