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1985 Bears Coverage: Museum lions to be manely Bearish

Every day of the 2015 Chicago Bears season, Chicago Sun-Times Sports will revisit its coverage 30 years ago during the 1985 Bears’ run to a Super Bowl title.

Museum lions to be manely Bearish

Bob Olmstead

Originally published Dec. 4, 1985

Presto, change-o! On Friday the Art Institute’s famous three-ton bronze lions will turn into Bears.

Find that hard to believe? Well, would you believe. . .Bears fans?

On Friday the Art Institute will deck out its 91-year-old lions in Chicago Bears football helmets.

The object will be to show the Bears we’re all still behind them in their drive toward the Super Bowl. And, just possibly, to cash in on the Bears’ popularity and show Chicago the Art Institute isn’t stuffy about art.

Big as some of the Bears are, the Art Institute needed a special equipment manager to come up with the helmets. It called upon Dan Galemb, a sculptor in the Art Institute’s studios instruction program.

Galemb, 40, got out his tape measure and a set of calipers, climbed on top of the 10-foot-long statues and found out each lion
would need a hat exactly 37 inches in diameter.

“I went through a number of ideas,” said Galemb.

“I made a plastic dome first, but I found it was very weak. It cracked in half when I tried to put it on.”

So Galemb went to heavy sheet steel, which, he says, makes “pretty husky helmets.”

He estimates the helmets, now getting the finishing touches in his studio at 1202 W. Grand, weigh about 50 pounds apiece. “This is definitely `Refrigerator’ size,” he said, referring to the Bears’ 308-pound rookie, William Perry.

The lions are to don their new headgear Friday morning.

Institute’s plans?

Not to us,” said Art Institute spokeswoman Eileen Harakal. “We’re still with them through the season, the playoffs and the Super Bowl. As long as it takes.”