If you grew up in South Florida, every time you went on a field trip to the Miami Science Museum in Coconut Grove, the sloth greeted you. There he was at the gate, tall and friendly and goofy.
But when the museum closed down, tragedy struck. The giant sloth -sculpted in the 1960s by artist Jules Canisalle and something of a beloved Miami oddity – became homeless.
The sleek new Frost Science Museum in downtown didn’t want him. He was too shabby. Too…slothy. Road trip kitsch website Roadside America describes it as “a Pleistocene Epoch ground sloth as he might look if you snuck up and prodded him with a stick.” The sloth himself couldn’t argue with that description.
Jon Kral/From the Miami Herald ArchivesSo where would he go, this gentle giant? Initial reports had Slothy moving to Omni Park. But we now have it on Instagram record that his new home will be the new Gramps by the Sea at 341 NW S. River Drive on the Miami River.
The waterfront offshoot of the Wynwood hot spot will feature two stories, 100-seat bar and, yep, the sloth. According to Gramps owner Adam Gersten, the sculpture has become “part of the architectural build out of the new space,” which is set to open sometime in 2019.
In the meantime, the sloth will be stored at a secure location, Gersten says.
The new Gramps will be more restaurant than bar, with a raw bar and fish sandwiches on the menu. But don’t worry. There will be a full bar and outdoor beer garden.
And there will be the sloth. Always.
So how did Gersten get his hands on this kooky piece of kitsch? Gersten says he read a few articles speculating about the sculpture’s future and heard that the museum was struggling to place him.
“It’s not cheap to move a giant cement sloth,” Gersten says.
Gersten also committed to underwrite a portion of another upcoming project with the Frost Museum involving weather, climate, science and sound. Details on that project are unavailable, but Gersten is excited about it.
“I also committed to pay for safe transport and storage of the giant sloth, and agreed to place it prominently,” Gersten says. “It was only then that I was, in turn, gifted the sloth. Folks at the museum knew that my appreciation for this type of thing knows no limit and that Slothy would be cared for as long as I’m alive and, hopefully, even after.”
How Gersten will get the sloth from its current undisclosed storage facility to the new Gramps is still unknown. The sculpture, a combination of cement, mesh and fiberglass, is not as solid as he looks. Gersten hopes he won’t collapse in transit.
“That should be another adventure,” he says.