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MU Celebrates 'Joy of Discovery'

New sculpture in Life Sciences Center Embodies One of University's Values

Sept. 25, 2007

Story Contact:  Kevin Carlson, 573-882-3346,

COLUMBIA, Mo. — "Discovery" is one of the four values of the University of Missouri-Columbia. The sculpture now hanging in the Alvin E. (Al) and Mary Agnes McQuinn Atrium in the Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center serves as an inspirational reminder of this spirit of discovery.

According to Kenneth Frederick vonRoenn Jr., the artist and architect behind the "Joy of Discovery," the work is meant to celebrate and encourage research.

"I wanted the sculpture to embody the enthusiastic, self-perpetuating joy of discovery woven into the fabric of MU's Life Sciences Center," vonRoenn said. "The composition is organized as a central spine that spans the atrium with circles and spirals suspended along its length and a double helix spiraling around the exterior of the sculpture. The central spine represents the central role of the Life Sciences Center while the circles represent the individual areas of study conducted within the Center. The spirals between these circles support discs of photographic transparencies, which are microscopic imagery from the research conducted within the Center. The double helix represents DNA, which is fundamental to all of the research."

VonRoenn, who works primarily with glass, earned his master's degree in architecture from Yale University. He is president of Architectural Glass Art, Inc., which is recognized for its innovative application of new technologies. VonRoenn has executed hundreds of projects nationally and internationally, including the world's largest glass sculpture, which crowns the top of Wachovia Bank in Charlotte, N.C.

The dedication ceremony for the sculpture, which has been hanging since late summer, also featured remarks from MU Chancellor Brady Deaton and Al McQuinn. Faculty from the six schools and colleges that collaborate in the Life Sciences Center as well as a number of Missouri arts supporters also were on hand.

McQuinn, who lives in Naples, Fla., with his wife, Mary Agnes, graduated from MU with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in 1954. He is the chairman of the board and chief executive officer of QuinStar Investment Partners, LLC. He and his wife, major supporters of MU, made the sculpture possible with a gift of more than $300,000.

"The McQuinns' vision was to commission an award-winning work of art capable of drawing national attention to the Bond Life Sciences Center," Deaton said. "The 'Joy of Discovery' sculpture evokes another form of intellectual stimulation for the team of investigators who work here."

The sculpture certainly draws attention. The work is four stories tall and made of aluminum circles suspended along a curved aluminum spine, with spiraling forms of acrylic and discs 3 feet in diameter. The discs contain actual images of current research in the Life Sciences Center on transparencies that can be replaced or updated over time.