Babson College artists work to refurbish massive globe

WELLESLEY, Mass. — It’s a whole new world at Babson College in Wellesley these days. Artists are in the process of refurbishing what was once the world’s largest globe.

It’s a big job. The globe is 28 feet in diameter and weighs 25 tons.

"I am much more of a geography expert than I was before," said Dana Woulfe, founder of Studio Fresh in Boston, a company that specializes in painting unusual murals.

First, the artists had to trace the outline of every country to scale.

"There’s inherent difficulties with translating a flat map, which is the graphic reference, to a sphere. There was some math learned and practiced that we haven’t used in a while," added Woulfe.

Restoring the globe started about two years ago, when the giant sphere was moved from one end of the Babson campus to another.

David Grissino, Babson’s director of capital projects and planning, said every aspect of this project has been challenging due to its unique nature.

"Even just trying to understand how to pick up and move it to this new location presented a number of logistical and technical challenges," said Grissino.

When the project is done, the Globe will also spin for the first time in years. "The globe is actually driven by a very simple motor," said Grissino.

The globe will be the centerpiece of the campus, and a new park, when it is unveiled in May.

For the artists who are bringing the globe back to its former glory, this restoration project is much more than a giant “paint-by-numbers” set.

"This has been really cool," said Woulfe. "Honestly it’s really a once in a life time project. I can’t imagine there are a lot of 28-foot globes out there."

The college had actually settled on demolishing the globe back in 1988, but a committee to save it convinced the administration to hold off.

This project is being funded by alumni donations and is timed to help Babson celebrate its 100th anniversary.

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