“Forward” is truly a beauty.
The bronze statue of a lovely lady stands at the State Street corner of Capitol Square, her right hand extended toward the heavens. She cradles a flag in the crook of her left arm, and her dress drapes around her. Forward’s hair is pulled back in a bun, highlighting her strong and resolute face.
Many call her “Lady Forward” or “Miss Forward,” but the plaque on the pedestal under her feet simply reads “Forward,” Wisconsin’s motto.
The statue is actually a replica of the original clay version of Forward, which was designed by Jean P. Miner and displayed at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. After the event, a group of Wisconsin women raised some $6,000 so Forward could take a more permanent form.
That Forward was made of copper and was installed near the Capitol’s east entrance in 1895, later moved to the north entrance. But in 1990, workers cleaning the statue realized that Forward was deteriorating and recommended that she seek shelter inside. In 1996 — on the 76th anniversary of women’s suffrage — a bronze replica was installed on the State Street steps while her copper twin took refuge at the Wisconsin Historical Society’s headquarters on the UW-Madison campus.
She may not be the original, but she is “Forward” just the same. Just don’t call her “Wisconsin.” That’s the name of the gilded statue of the woman standing atop the Capitol. They may both be beautiful, but they are definitely not the same.