A Glowing Gold Face for our Golden Anniversary

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Next year, Monell will celebrate its “golden” anniversary, marking 50 years since we were founded in 1968.

Ahead of this milestone, we recently celebrated another “golden” event – the statue standing outside our main entrance had its gold finish restored.

The sculpture’s official name is “Face Fragment,” and it was created in 1975 by Philadelphia sculptor Arlene Love.

So how exactly did Monell’s iconic golden statue come to be?

As part of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority’s Percent for Art Program, Monell’s leadership invited artists to submit ideas for a sculpture soon after the young Center moved to its present location in 1971. Ms. Love was one of a number of artists vying for the commission.

Several Monell members worried that Face Fragment, with its large nose and lips, was just too literal for an institute devoted to smell and taste. Others were concerned that Face Fragment didn’t highlight the brain’s importance in interpreting sensory inputs.

Ultimately, the final decision came down to one woman: Patricia Kind. A long-term supporter, benefactor, and Board Member of Monell, Mrs. Kind donated the funds to construct the Center’s statue. And she stood steadfastly behind Face Fragment, finally convincing Monell’s leadership to select Ms. Love’s design.

For a ten-foot high, 500 pound, resin and fiberglass face – which sits on a four-foot tall pedestal – Face Fragment is surprisingly relatable. Ms. Love designed the face to sit comfortably in the diverse West Philadelphia neighborhood, and intentionally sculpted it with features that were not specific to any ethnicity or race.

The sculpture was originally coated in bronze, but Ms. Love soon replaced the patina with shiny gold leaf, a more durable option for the outdoor statue. Then, in the early 1980s, Face Fragment underwent its first regilding. Judy Wellington, a Monell Assistant Member at the time, oversaw this process.

During the most recent restoration, Donna Kupniewski, Monell’s current Director of Facilities Management, was in charge. And Ms. Love herself was also involved in the process, serving as a resource for the restorer, Adam Jenkins.

From left: Adam Jenkins (restorer), Gary Beauchamp, Bob Margolskee, Arlene Love (sculptor)

In the decades that Face Fragment has stood in front of the Monell Center, Monell scientists and personnel have grown deeply attached to it.

During the past few months, we collected memories, thoughts, and other musings about Face Fragment from past and current Monellians and friends. Enjoy them below, along with photos of the restoration process.

My brothers and sisters and I have always been inspired by our mom and her love for Philadelphia. She funded Face Fragment’s creation, and we thought it fitting to honor her memory by supporting its restoration. Monell’s leadership in the field of flavors and fragrances makes it the ideal place for the statue.

Christina Kind
Daughter of Patricia Kind, who fiercely advocated for Face Fragment and supported its construction

Face Fragment statue, before restoration

The Face Fragment statue is recognized throughout the world as the public face of Monell. The regilding is an emphatic statement of our commitment to the future of chemical senses research for the next 50 years and beyond.

Robert Margolskee, MD, PhD
Monell Director and President

Over all these decades I see news about Monell in the press, and I feel so thrilled to be associated with the Center.

Arlene Love
Designer and Sculptor of Face Fragment

Face Fragment was quite literally my first introduction to Monell. It greeted me every day as I went to work and still serves to help me explain to friends where Monell is in West Philly. Everyone seems to know the gold face statue on Market Street.

Judy Wellington, PhD
Monell Alumna 1976-1986
Oversaw first Face Fragment regilding

Face Fragment statue restored, before gold leaf added

For me, it exemplifies the focus of our research. The sculpture symbolizes Monell for many people familiar with the area, and the restored gold color gives a vision of the richness of our Center and our research.

Marco Tizzano, PhD
Monell Assistant Member

Face Fragment symbolizes the two ways Monell contributes to Philadelphia, both through our scientific achievements and as members of the community.

Casey Trimmer, PhD
Monell Postdoctoral Fellow

In my work with the Monell Foundation, I often see Philadelphia-based grant applicants refer to Face Fragment. One in particular asked if their application would receive more attention if they submitted a photo of their leadership standing next to the sculpture.

Maurizio Morello, Esq.
Board of Directors, Monell Center and Monell Foundation

Partially restored Face Fragment statue

We have Pat to thank for her foresight in choosing Face Fragment over other statue designs. Monell’s sculpture is now an iconic symbol of the Center throughout the world, and we welcome its restoration to its original luster.

Gary Beauchamp, PhD
Monell Distinguished Member, Emeritus Director and President

To me, Face Fragment and the Monell Center are synonymous. I cannot imagine either without the other – they are one and the same.

Donna Kupniewski
Monell Director of Facilities Management
Oversaw 2017 Face Fragment restoration

Face Fragment is an unusual piece of art that helps “brand” us in the public eye. Not many people recognize our address, but if I refer to Monell as “the building with the gold face in front,” they respond with “Oh yes!”

George Preti, PhD
Monell Member

Fully restored Face Fragment statue Fully restored Face Fragment statue


We are grateful for those who contributed to 2017 restoration of the Face Fragment. This project was made possible through donations from:

Christina Kind
Kenneth and Sharon Kind
Valerie and Andrew Kind-Rubin
Andrew Kindfuller
Laura Kind McKenna
Ambrose Monell
Maurizio Morello