The Academy Building of the Groningen University is one of the symbols of the city. However, it took 19 years for specialists to notice a decidedly modern change of the façade: the statue of the Roman goddess of wisdom, Minerva, was holding a broomstick instead of a spear.
As reported in the Universiteitskrant, a number of statues on the façade of the Academy Building, currently under renovation, have been left damaged or incomplete due to previous renovations. In addition to the Minerva statue, other patrons of the sciences have also lost their original symbols: Historia stands without her feather quill, Mathematica has no compass, and Scientia holds an iron torch, instead of a sandstone one.
The story of Minerva’s broomstick was revealed by construction manager René Bosscher, Minerva’s spear was replaced by the broom in 2000. When workers found a hole in the hand of the goddess, they decided to fix it with a broomstick as a temporary solution. The statues of the patrons will need to wait a little longer for their restoration, as it will not be possible to make accurate replicas of their spear, quill, compass and torch before the scaffolding in front of the Academy Building is removed.
Beside the statues, another mistake can be spotted: the university’s coat of arms was painted with the wrong colours. Instead of green, previous painters used blue colour to depict the ‘ommelanden’: the parts of Groningen province that surround Groningen city.