MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The iconic “Spoonbridge and Cherry” sculpture is losing its famous fruit for a few months as it heads to New York for a touch up by a specialized painter.

On Tuesday, a team of movers dismounted the 1,200-pound aluminum cherry from its spot at the tip of the Spoonbridge and secured it to a truck, which will take it across the country to be refurbished about an hour north of Manhattan at a full-service paint shop for sculptural art.

Joe King, director of collections at the Walker Art Center, said that specialty will ensure the work is getting the best treatment possible. The most difficult part is removing it for painting, so “after going through all that process, we want to get the best product that we can,” he said.

Fine Art Finishes in New York will repaint the piece. The painter has also retouched the blue rooster in Minneapolis.

“They’re really the best equipped to handle a work of this nature,” he said.

Maintenance of outdoor art, like all of the pieces at the Sculpture Garden, is crucial to their longevity. King noted that the art endures dramatic swings in temperature from summer to winter, UV rays, and snow and rain. Every eight years or so a repaint is in order.

The last time that happened to Spoonbridge was 2016. There was a full restoration in 2009, and it’s been painted six or seven times since it first came to the Sculpture Garden more than 30 years ago.

“We’re expending a lot of resources to take the work out of the garden. So we want to get the best possible job,” King said.

Leon Budke and several of his colleagues at Rocket Crane carefully unhooked the cherry for its upgrade. Budke had to get inside of the art to remove the bolts attaching it to the spoon. They spent at least a half an hour attaching it to a crane before actually removing it and setting it on the bed of a truck.

“We’ve been involved with most all these sculptures that have gone in [the Sculpture Garden],” Budke said, calling it “careful” and “tedious” work. “It’s cool to be involved with it. You can drive by and say: ‘We did that.'”

Ann and John Blim came to visit the Sculpture Garden just minutes after the cherry was removed. It was unfortunate timing for John, who had never seen it in person before. Ann is from Minnesota and the pair live in Louisville, Kentucky.

“Were thinking this would be a sundae with a cherry on top but now it’s just a Tuesday with no cherry on top,” Ann Blim joked.

The pair vow to come back when the cherry is back. It’s expected to be reinstalled in mid-January.

Coosje van Bruggen and Claes Oldenburg created the Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture, which has stood in Walker Art Center’s Minneapolis Sculpture Garden since 1988.

Caroline Cummings