Just outside of Mallinckrodt, but before you hit the library, hulks a thin and pensive piece of bronze known affectionately by Washington University students as “the Bunny.” Thought by many to be a Wash. U. original—after all, how many bronze bunnies does one see?—this piece is just one of many emaciated bunnies placed throughout both the country and the world.
Covered throughout the school year in glow sticks, wreaths and other decorations, the Bunny is one of the most recognizable aspects of campus. Programs, student groups and trips off campus all use the Bunny as a meeting spot everyone will recognize. But the Wash. U. icon, referred to by some as the Donnie Darko bunny, joins its fellow bunnies as a set of sculptures by the famous British sculptor Barry Flanagan. Some of the other bunnies even dance and play instruments.
Beginning in 1979, Barry Flanagan began casting his bronze hares. While one jumps over a pyramid, another happily bangs its left-handed drum. A third sits sadly with a guitar at its side. Be particularly careful of the boxing hare atop his anvil. Yes, the bunnies do more than merely sit on a rock.
As a “Thinker on a Rock,” the Wash. U. Bunny appears less active than some of his other bunny playmates—except of course for the “Thinker on a Large Computer.” Even with all of that thinking, somehow he and the other hares sure know how to travel. Hopping around the globe, these hares have been displayed as brilliant works of art everywhere from Grant Park in Chicago and Union Park in New York all the way to London. The “Thinker” himself made a visit to the Netherlands in 2005.
But wait. If the Bunny were here at the University, how could he be in the Netherlands? Apparently, there are multiple thinkers. While one pensive bunny resides here on Hilltop Campus, a second is thinking in the National Gallery of Art at another Washington, in D.C.
As you walk past the Bunny on your way to class, take time to stop and appreciate the creepy statue, which casts its long eared shadow on us all. While some of Flanagan’s bronze hares are getting admired as works of a master artist, Wash. U.’s Bunny will be going through his yearly wardrobe change. Students will meet at its base before they go to lunch. And the student body will continue to remark on just how odd the Donnie Darko bunny really is when it’s sitting on your campus.