Tony Smith's "Gracehoper" at the Detroit Institute of Arts

Follow the history of Tony Smith's work at the Detroit Institute of Arts and the installation and conservation treatment of his iconic sculpture, "Gracehoper".


Dedalus Foundation awards the DIA a generous grant toward the treatment of “Gracehoper”.

Tony Smith designs "Gracehoper"

Tony Smith designs the first version of "Gracehoper" as a cardboard maquette (small-scale model).

Smith's first exhibition in Michigan

Eight large-scale plywood mock-up’s of Tony Smith’s sculptures are featured as part of “Friends of Modern Art Annual: Form, Color, Image”, a group exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts. This is Smith's first exhibition in Michigan.

"Gracehoper" is commissioned

The Friends of Modern Art commission Tony Smith’s “Gracehoper” for the DIA’s north lawn to celebrate the opening of the North Wing.

Installation in Detroit

“Gracehoper” is fabricated in six enormous steel sections by Industrial Welding Company of Newark, New Jersey. The work is shipped to the museum to be installed and then painted on the north lawn. Tony Smith oversees the installation.

The Ellsworth Kelly Foundation awards Grant

The Ellsworth Kelly Foundation awards a generous grant in support of the conservation of contemporary art. A substantial portion of this is allocated to the "Gracehoper" conservation project.

"Gracehoper" is unveiled

The Friends of Modern Art, Board of Trustees of the Founders Society, and the Arts Commission “unveil” and dedicate “Gracehoper”. Former Curator Samuel J. Wagstaff Jr. and Honorary Curator of Modern Art Lydia Winston Malbin speak at the evening events. Among the guests are crane operators and steel workers who constructed the sculpture.

First conservation treatment

“Gracehoper” receives its first conservation treatment since installation. The interior rust is removed, and the exterior surface is repaired and repainted.


Concerns arise over corrosion to the surface and structure of the sculpture. Several conservation surveys and condition reports are produced. It is determined that the interior and exterior surfaces are rusting, and that the exterior will need to be repainted.

Re-dedication ceremony

A re-dedication ceremony is held on the north lawn to celebrate the restoration of “Gracehoper”.

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