Boulder City Magazine is a monthly publication full of information about Boulder City and Southern Nevada. Boulder City Magazine features the Boulder City Home Guide, a real estate guide to Boulder City and Southern Nevada.

Boulder City History
by Laura Hutton, Museum Coordinator

The Art of Hoover Dam

Working for the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum, I spend quite a bit of my time talking to visitors and tourists about the Hoover Dam; getting down to the site while avoiding traffic, what’s worth the look if time is short, and how to get the most out of their trip. What I often forget is all of the time, effort, and careful planning that went into creating the Dam as an actual work of art.

From sculptor Oskar J.W. Hansen who created the winged figures of the Republic to artists Gordon B. Kaufmann and Allen True, who designed the art deco styling of the Dam site, countless hours were devoted to making our Dam a functional and beautiful industrial wonder.

With these great architectural and design works of the Dam blossomed inspiration for many artists, expressed through song, poetry, paintings, sketches, photographs, and sculpture. One of my favorites is an aluminum replica model of the Hoover Dam, created by the sculptor Gladys Caldwell Fisher in 1935. The model is surrounded on two sides by pictographs representing flood control, power, irrigation, navigation, and water supply, as well as a wing spread eagle. These pieces open up to reveal detailed diversion tunnels as well as panels citing of consultants, contractors, and government officials involved in the Boulder Canyon Project. The other two sides show specifications for the dam’s structure, such as the diameter of the penstocks used (30 feet) and the amount of concrete used (3,250,000 cubic yards.), which gives a better idea of the true size of the massive structure in comparison to this extremely scaled version.

Adding to the wonder of the Dam is the mystery behind the aluminum models. No record can be found telling how many of these aluminum models were produced and sold. Check your attics, basements, and garages Boulder City; you may have your own Hoover Dam treasure hidden away. Come see our models on display in the Boulder Dam Hotel lobby and in our museum, protected and functional as our donation box.

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