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Balto the Alaskan dog

2012 April 17



Statue of Balto in Central Park, New York

Balto, the Alaskan dog and his statue in New York’s Central Park : animal representation and national heritage.

I first came across the statue of Balto while walking through Central Park in 1997 and wondered why the statue was there – and not in Alaska. I did not have an opportunity to follow this up until some ten years later. I was then able  to explore various New York archives – and to look at the other animal and human representations in Central Park .

The article explores the statue of the dog Balto who, with other dogs and mushers brought a life saving serum to the isolated town of Nome in Alaska in 1925.It looks at the stories of the event but also discusses why a commemorative statue was then erected thousands of miles away in New York’s Central Park. It also discusses the statue against the context of others in the park and analyses the relationship between the dog himself and the statue. It considers the role of animal representation in creating national heritages. It notes the disjuncture between the status of the represented animal and his actual existence, neglected in Cleveland zoo.

International Journal of Heritage Studies  15:5, 2009, pp.413-30

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