Gull Sculpture Prepared to Take Flight Again After Restoration

The historical bronze sculpture of gulls in flight by Rolfe Nyberg was commissioned in 1965 by the Deltona Corporate for its administrative offices. The sculpture adorned the entrance of the Deltona Sales/Administration office during the development of the Mackle Brother’s planned Marco Island community. In the initial construction phase of Marco Island, the Deltona Corporation built the essential infrastructure, including the Marco Beach Hotel, the Marco Island Yacht Club, and various model homes.

When this important artifact from Marco Island’s past was damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017, the sculpture was salvaged and taken to the Marco Island Historical Society for protection and restoration. Due to its fragile nature, transporting it to a studio for treatment was too risky.

Instead, RLA Conservation of Art + Architecture came onsite to re-weld broken welds, remove plant debris, eliminate corrosion, apply chemical patina, and cover the surface with a protective paste wax, thanks partly to a $3,000 Greater Marco Island Community Grant Fund. The professional restoration of the sculpture was documented and completed in February 2024.

The sculpture is now “resting” in safe storage and will soon become part of the Marco Island Historical Museum’s permanent collection. Initial planning has begun to schedule its installation in the museum’s “Modern Marco Island” exhibit. A public unveiling will likely be in 2025, the 60th anniversary of its original installation at Deltona Corporation.

“This bronze sculpture is an important artifact of Marco Island’s past,” said Marco Island Historical Museum executive director Patricia Ann Rutledge. “We are grateful to The Greater Marco Island Community Fund at the Collier Community Foundation for their funding to help us to preserve this rare and irreplaceable piece of Marco Island’s history. Because of their support, thousands of museum visitors will have the opportunity to experience firsthand this rare part of our community’s history.”

The Greater Marco Island Community Fund, founded in March 2019, is a Field of Interest and Endowed Fund at the Collier Community Foundation that will permanently benefit the Greater Marco Island area. So far, $434,900 has been raised, and $333,000 has been granted to 19 organizations serving Greater Marco Island.