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Steel, aluminum, Plexiglas, fiberglass, and paint.
One of the museum's primary responsibilities is to collect objects and artifacts which reflect the art, technology, natural history, and cultural history of the state. One of the most recognized artifacts in the museum's collection falls under all of these categories, and has been the source of many stories from thousands of museum visitors each year. This prehistoric giant white shark represents the largest aquatic fossils found in the state. It was made by South Carolina artist Stavros Chrysostomides using technology similar to airplane construction that he learned during his service in both the Army and the Air Force. This sculpture has been an icon for the museum since it opened in 1988, and the construction, delivery and installation was one of the most anticipated activities during building of the State Museum.
The shark took more than a year to create, and was moved to the State Museum on Feb. 10, 1988. So large that it took two cranes to loan it onto a South Carolina National Guard flat-bed truck for transportation, the model turned many a head during its drive from creator Stavros Chrysostomides's studio on Monticello Road to the State Museum downtown. (The original plan was to fly it by helicopter over the city, but it was realized that the model's curved, non-aerodynamic shape would have problems with the downdraft from a helicopter's propellers.) The moving of the shark attracted a huge amount of media attention and made the news nationally in papers from Maine to Oklahoma.
The shark weighs approximately three tons and is built around a steel shaft down its center. The frame was made of aluminum and covered with wire mesh and fiberglass. For moving into the museum, it was wheeled in, in two large pieces without its fins. Once in place, the front and back were reunited, the fins were installed, and it was hoisted into place with a pulley and cables. Museum guests can see the artist's signature on the underside of the fin nearest the staircase.
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