From his damp former home under the UC Berkeley bleachers to his gloomy abode in the bowels of a gargantuan warehouse, it has been a long time since Kritios Boy was surrounded by anything resembling comfort.
And now Kritios Boy and dozens of other plaster replicas of classical Greek and Roman statues are preparing to move again, likely to yet another out-of-the-way dwelling.
The 4-foot-tall copy of an ancient Greek statue is one of several 100-year-old sculptures rescued from neglect by now-retired UC Berkeley professor Stephen Miller. During the past 35 years, the classics professor has overseen the careful restoration of the statues, all scale-model replicas of 2,000- to 3,000-year-old originals.
But, with Miller spending most of his time in Greece these days and the university's pending sale of the former typewriter factory, it's unclear where the statues will end up as the building's tenants are moved out during the next three years.
"I want very badly for these to be on campus," Miller said, surrounded by about three dozen statues in the basement of the Marchant warehouse, at a point on San Pablo Avenue where Berkeley, Emeryville and Oakland meet. At least one city boundary runs through the building.
"I feel like I took the first step, but there is still so much more to do."
The plaster casts were donated to the university during the course of 70 years or so, first by prominent philanthropist Phoebe Apperson Hearst and more recently by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. But Hearst's statues languished for decades under the bleachers of Edwards Stadium, prompting angry letters from faculty members to administrators as early as the 1930s.
In 1973, a colleague recommended that Miller -- then a new professor -- take his students on a quest to find the nearly forgotten statues. Armed with flashlights and brooms, Miller and his students were stunned to find the casts covered with bird droppings and damaged by rain.
"I was outraged," said Miller, who was jolted into action. "I was too ignorant to know that junior faculty members don't write angry letters to the chancellor."
Rather than firing the feisty Miller, then-Chancellor Albert Bowker agreed to move the statues to a safer warehouse in Richmond. They were later moved to the Marchant building, tucked away behind a chain-link fence with other pieces from the university's Hearst Museum of Anthropology.
The warehouse is an immense maze of offices, fenced-off storage areas and workshops. The university's printing and book-binding operations are run out of the Marchant building, and the city of Berkeley rents space there to store records.
Other uses are not as clear-cut. On a recent weekday, a wooden frame with the cryptic words "Tie gourd here" written on the side was in a hallway.
In 2003, the university moved boxes of administrative records out of two rooms in the dark basement, so Miller could train students how to restore the statues. Navigating around an immense boiler-like contraption in one room, scores of students spent the next two years carefully replacing missing chunks of plaster and removing grime with cotton swabs and chemicals.
"This is really like bringing Greece and Rome right into our backyard," said doctoral student Nathan Arrington, who helped Miller restore the statues.
For Miller, the collection of decorative sculptures perfectly illustrates the progression of ancient Greek and Roman art from its simplistic beginnings to its anatomically correct conclusions. Practicing art students looking for help sketching death need only look at the "Dead Amazon" statue in the Marchant basement, Miller said.
"How do you show death?" he said, looking down at the restored statue of a female warrior. "The lips are slack, the eyes are half-closed. All these tricks of the trade. It's a wonderful teaching tool."
Both Miller and Arrington lamented the statues' out-of-the-way location -- it takes more than an hour to take buses from campus to the warehouse -- and uncertain future. With space more limited every year at the growing university, it's unclear where the statues will end up.
"I just think it's a great travesty that we have this collection and we can't easily access it," Arrington said. "If you moved it (to campus), the number of people who use it would triple or quadruple."
Perhaps working in the statues' favor is the fact that UC Berkeley's space-management director, Tom Ventresco, is a sculptor who volunteered to help restore the statues. But Ventresco said the university can't guarantee campus space to the collection, especially since most of the Hearst Museum's stored items will move to Richmond.
"(Miller) and I, over the years, have talked about moving the collection to campus," he said. "We haven't given up on that idea. (But) it's not clear whether they'll be divided up or what."
Miller said he has tried to encourage younger faculty members to succeed him as the statues' advocates, but few have the time to deal with the issue.
"There's very little I can do," he said. "It's really up to the next generation."