Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Sculpture in Amherst, Massachusetts

A seemingly out-of-place comic book surprise sits on the 21st floor of the tallest university library in the world. 

When. Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman created the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turt, it was an unserious and unambitious personal project that quickly spiraled their lives into unexpected stardom. Laird was born in North Adams, Massachusetts in 1954 where he then went on to study fine arts at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1970.

Turtlemania, as it began to be known, slowly faded by 1994, with Laird’s partner, Eastman, leaving the franchise entirely. In his absence, Laird, along with another fellow UMass graduate Gary Richardson, continued to keep the turtles alive through new designs and business ventures all from the humble region of western Massachusetts.  

In 2013, Laird donated a bronze statue of all four turtles, plus their rat mentor Splinter, to the university. Dozens of students and visitors stop by each day to admire the sculpture, as well as imagine a time before the existence of four, crime-fighting turtles named after Renaissance figures. 

“It’s amazing to think that two UMass grads who grew up and lived most of their lives in Western Mass would end up working together in Northampton in a business involved in worldwide entertainment and product licensing, let alone connected to a crazy concept like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” Laird mused in the UMass student publication, The Common Wealth. “From taxes to Turtles—Cowabunga!”

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