People Are Petitioning for a Bronze Statue of Robin Williams

They say they’d like to see it go up on the bench in the Boston Public Garden.

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Photo by Steve Annear

Since news broke Monday that actor and comedian Robin Williams passed away due to an apparent suicide, people have been flocking to the small wooden bench that overlooks a lagoon in the Boston Public Garden to write messages in remembrance.

Within hours, the sidewalk running in front of the park seat filled up with writing done in chalk, quoting the actor’s famous lines from films and all but taking over a small portion of the pathway.

But with rainfall in the forecast this week, those notes will soon be washed away, leaving nothing but memories of Williams’ time spent in Boston.

That’s why Garry McLinn, an administrator at MIT’s department of Mechanical Engineering, wouldn’t mind seeing a more permanent tribute to the Academy-Award winning actor and co-star of Good Will Hunting erected at the site where one of the most talked-about scenes from the film took place.

“He was important to me personally, and clearly that bench is already becoming a memorial situation. It would be great to put something for him there,” said McLinn, who envisions a bronze statue of Williams’ character Dr. Sean Macguire, complete with cap, staring out at the pond as he did in the film during the delivery of his monologue alongside Matt Damon.

McLinn said he is going to write a letter to the Friends of the Public Garden, the entity that preserves and oversees operations at the park space in conjunction with the city’s Parks Department, to see what steps would have to be taken in order to pursue the proposal.

But there may be some serious hurdles to overcome first.

That very bench is currently sponsored by Beacon Hill resident Barbara Dunay under the Friends of the Public Garden’s “Tree and Bench Sponsorship Program.” The program offers the public the opportunity to take part in the stewardship of the parks the Friends support by contributing money. In exchange, a donor gets a special plaque with their name at the site they sponsor, which stays up for 15 years and can be renewed.

A spokesperson from the Friends of the Public Garden told Boston there also may be a moratorium on new statues in this particular park, but they’re monitoring conversations about the statue online.

Whether or not anything comes of McLinn’s idea, he said it’s still worth a shot.

“In my mind, that specific area, people who are battling with depression like he was can see it as a reminder that they are not alone,” he said, adding that even a plaque with a line from the monologue would be appropriate for the public to appreciate. “It’s kind of cliché, but Robin Williams was there for everybody in a way. He loved everyone, that’s why it’s sad to so many people.”

While some people have balked at the concept already, and told McLinn that perhaps he is getting overly emotional due to the sudden news about the celebrity’s passing, others have had similar ideas.

Within minutes of McLinn starting the conversation on Reddit Tuesday afternoon, another user on the forum drafted a petition to try and get residents’ signatures in support of placing a statue of Williams in that exact spot.

“This petition is to gain support to create a bronze statue of Robin Williams and place it on that bench, so that everyone has the chance to sit with him, stare out into the water, and contemplate life, love, and good memories,” the petition said.

Others claim they’re getting the ball rolling for funding the statue.