Media Advisory: 16-Foot Sculpture of Mexican American Cowboy Returns to Public View

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Laura Baptiste
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Photo opportunity: Iconic sculpture by Luis Jiménez to be installed on Seventh Street N.W. outside Smithsonian American Art Museum


Saturday, Dec. 3 (weather permitting)
8 a.m. to noon
Crane assembly: 8 a.m.
Sculpture placement: 9 to 9:45 a.m


Smithsonian American Art Museum Seventh and F streets N.W.


Helen Ingalls, conservator, Smithsonian American Art Museum
E. Carmen Ramos, curator, Smithsonian American Art Museum
Jim Gwinner, conservator, McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory 

Vaquero,” the vibrantly colored 16-foot-6-inch-tall fiberglass sculpture by Luis Jiménez that has been the unofficial symbol of the Smithsonian American Art Museum for 25 years, will be re-installed outside the museum following a major conservation treatment. The artwork will be placed on the northeast side of the building, looking over Seventh Street.

Jiménez (1940–2006) was an American sculptor celebrated for public works that offer unconventional perspectives on American culture and history. “Vaquero” (modeled 1980/cast 1990), a visitor favorite, is widely considered one of Jiménez’s most significant works. The sculpture depicts a Mexican American cowboy riding a blue bucking bronco, affirming the Mexican roots of this icon of the American West.

“Vaquero” stood prominently outside the Eighth and G streets N.W. entrance to the museum since 1990. It was removed in 2015 for a major treatment at the McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory in Ohio. The treatment was designed to conserve the sculpture after more than 20 years in an outdoor environment and to ensure its long-term preservation for audiences to enjoy well into the future.

Media do not need prior permission to photograph the work. Contact Laura Baptiste to schedule interviews or with questions about the museum and the conservation treatment. 

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Press Images

  • Press - Luis Jiménez

    Press - Luis Jiménez

    Luis Jiménez, Vaquero, modeled 1980/cast 1990, acrylic urethane, fiberglass, steel armature, Smithsonian American Art Museum, © 1980, Luis Jimenez, Gift of Judith and Wilbur L. Ross, Jr., Anne and Ronald Abramson, and Thelma and Melvin Lenkin, 1990.44