About the Skinner Bust

Thanks to Dr. Robert Epstein, Founder of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies™, Artist Gilda Oliver (aka Gilda McLean) was commissioned in the 80’s to sculpt a bust of B.F. Skinner.  The bust was unveiled during the Center’s 1988 Annual Meeting of the Trustees and  displayed in our offices until it was damaged in a fire.  Thanks to Gilda, the bust has been repaired and is being readied for its journey home.

Gilda has kindly supplied the current photograph of the bust together with historic photographs and a letter from Dr. Skinner.  They grew quite fond of each other during their sessions together and remained in each others lives until his death.  He even saved her life, which is referenced in a handwritten note Gilda shared with the Center. “I owe him a lot. Without meeting him and spending time together, there would be no me.  He saved my life. I had a very severe infection all around my throat and windpipe. A superbug, if you will. Regular doctors did not know how to treat something that severe. Fred sent a specialist familiar with the infection who saved me.”

“Fred as such a nice person. I was about 25 at the time but he talked to me as an equal, like he was my age or that of my friends. He had a very young spirit. He was afraid to say he was falling in love what he perceived to be my side of the world, another side than his, the artistic world of emotions, beauty, culture and warmth.  We became like best friends. He had strong feelings, watching and loving the development of powerful art.”

“It’s hard to explain but Fred was very similar in spirit to the Dalai Lama. He was completely non-possessive of other humans, therefore, he was able to love others completely.  He never tried to own or rule anyone.”

Director Tom Zane and Trustee Mary Jane Weiss drove the bust back to Massachusetts and it is now on display on the Endicott College campus.  We are happy to have him back in our realm.