Richard Bergen, the artist behind the Ad Astra statue that sits atop the Kansas Statehouse, died April 22. He was 95.


Bergen, of Salina, is most known for his work on the 22-foot tall, 4,420-pound statue that sits atop the capitol dome. It depicts a Kansa warrior and was completed and dedicated in 2002.


He was also named Kansan of the Year in 2002 by The Topeka Capital-Journal.


Originally from New Jersey, Bergen arrived in Kansas to study arts at Bethany College in Lindsborg, according to an article about Bergen published on weebly.com.


Bergen became involved in the creation of the capitol’s dome statue more than 100 years after its commission.


According to the Kansas State Historical Society’s website, a design competition was held in 1889 and the winning design of a bronze sculpture of Ceres by J.H. Mahoney was chosen.


Public outcry over the nearly $7,000 price tag caused the project to be tabled. in 1984, legislators approved funding for a new sculpture.


Bergen competed in a design competition in 1988 and won with his Kansa warrior idea. The statue was completed 14 years later.


Bergen drew inspiration for the sculpture from a book by William Unrau titled "The Kansa Indians: A history of the Wind People."