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"Family" Sculpture Returns to American Dental Association Headquarters

Sculpture Reinstalled After Two-Year Building Renovation

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CHICAGO (April 7, 2008) — The “Family” sculpture has been reinstalled outside the American Dental Association (ADA) building after a two-year absence due to a renovation project.

“The ADA is excited about the return of this popular statue, which has graced the ADA’s exterior since 1969,” said James B. Bramson, D.D.S., ADA executive director.  “This sculpture has helped beautify downtown Chicago for many years and we are looking forward to many more.”

Nearing completion of a renovation of ADA’s headquarters, 211 E. Chicago Ave., the three-piece sculpture of a father, mother and child was reinstalled just outside of the lobby’s west entrance in March and just recently unveiled to the public. The 16,000-pound bronze “Family” sculpture was taken to storage in July 2006 when the lobby renovation began.

In 1964, the ADA commissioned Chicago-born artist Joseph J. O’Connell to create a sculpture for the ADA’s west court.  O’Connell, known for his public and religious sculptures, was given free reign to develop the sculpture that was eventually named “Family.” The sculpture is said to epitomize the family of man and reflect the concern for humankind that is involved in the practice of dentistry.

It took two years for O’Connell to craft the figures of the father, which is 8,000 pounds, mother, which is 5,000 pounds, and child, which is 3,000 pounds. Each figure is more than twice life size with the tallest figure, the father, standing approximately 15-feet tall.

The artist worked from plaster models in a studio at the College of St. Benedict in Minnesota, which he rented especially for a project of this size. The plaster models were later cut into pieces and then shipped to a foundry in Detroit, where the sections were cast in bronze and then welded together. The finished work was shipped to the ADA on a flatbed truck and installed in May 1969.

O'Connell, who also carved statues, doors and panels for churches throughout the United States, died Oct. 20, 1995, at age 68.

About the American Dental Association

The not-for-profit ADA is the nation's largest dental association, representing 157,000 dentist members. The premier source of oral health information, the ADA has advocated for the public's health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1859. The ADA's state-of-the-art research facilities develop and test dental products and materials that have advanced the practice of dentistry and made the patient experience more positive. The ADA Seal of Acceptance long has been a valuable and respected guide to consumer dental care products. The monthly The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) is the ADA's flagship publication and the best-read scientific journal in dentistry. For more information about the ADA, visit For more information on oral health, including prevention, care and treatment of dental disease, visit the ADA’s consumer website