If it weren’t so sunny and warm in Seattle on Sunday, a quick glance at the Chris Cornell statue standing outside of the MoPOP museum could almost trick you into thinking it snowed.
A light dusting of white colored the famous Soundgarden frontman’s bronze form, in the crevices of his jacket, the front of his jeans and the contours of his curly long hair.
It was almost subtle enough to look intentional or appear an accident. But that’s not what happened.
A representative of Seattle’s pop culture museum confirmed Friday that the statue had been vandalized outside of MoPOP’s Fifth Avenue entrance on Thursday. The museum was unavailable for an update Sunday.
Initially, most of the statue’s front was covered in white — his face, hands, guitar and chest.
By Sunday, much of the glaring harm was reduced, leaving metal fencing around the life-size figure with the message: “Artifact is temporarily under conservation.”
On social media, Cornell’s wife, Vicky Cornell, said volunteers showed up in the middle of the night to try to scrub off the damage. MoPOP was not available Sunday to confirm if the volunteers were the sole reason for the improvement.
“We are deeply pained by this act targeting the memory of a beloved artist in Seattle and around the world,” MoPOP said in a statement. “We have notified appropriate authorities and have cordoned off the area so that professional conservators can assess the damage and develop a plan that will restore this important piece of public art without damaging it further.”
The statue, which depicts the late singer wearing his signature boots, dog tags and his Gibson guitar, was commissioned by Vicky Cornell and donated to MoPOP to memorialize the music icon in his hometown. Created by artist Nick Marra, the statue has stood outside the museum’s south entrance on Fifth Avenue North since an unveiling ceremony in October 2018.
Vicky Cornell wrote in an Instagram post that she and the couple’s two children were “heartbroken” to learn the statue had been vandalized, describing it as an act of “hate and destruction” and “an attempt to besmirch Chris’s legacy.”
“The statue is not only art, but a tribute to Chris, his incomparable musical legacy and everything that he stood for,” she wrote. “It represents Chris, who is beloved not only in Seattle, but worldwide.”
It’s not the first time a memorial to one of Seattle’s late musical legends has been defaced. In 2013, two men were arrested after spray-painting the Jimi Hendrix statue on Capitol Hill amid a vandalizing spree.