Whodunnits in the garment center are few and far between these days, but one case of a missing statue was recently cracked by the subject’s granddaughter.

More than 40 years after the retired seamstress Maria Pulsone posed for a statue, she was reunited with it at an unveling at the Italian American Museum, which will reopen this summer.

Her granddaughter Jennifer Pulsone said that she always knew growing up that her grandmother had a statue that rested in the lobby of the Broadway building where she worked.  Always curious where it landed, the younger Pulsone said her husband suggested they try to track it down late last year. “I said, ‘It’s going to be nearly impossible to find this thing.’ But with a quick Google search of ‘woman’s sewing statue,’ it just popped up. It was for sale in a warehouse in Scranton, Pa.,” she said.

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Six hundred dollars or so later Pulsone became its new owner. “We live in New York City; we’re not going to put it in our apartment. My grandma lives in Queens. She’s not going to put it in her backyard,” Pulsone said. “We were like, ‘Where are we putting this thing?’”

She learned of the Italian American Museum’s plans to reopen this summer and reached out. They responded immediately and said they definitely wanted to include the piece in an exhibition about the garment district, she said.

Posing for the plaster life-size statue required a sitting of several hours for Maria Pulsone, who had to wear a face mask with straws in her nose to breathe. She was known as a “master seamstress” at that time. Her employer of several decades, Saint Laurie, had commissioned the statue in 1984.

Maria Pulsone was floored to learn that the statue had been found. “She couldn’t believe it. She is a simple, humble person. She’s never thought it’s a big deal that she has a statue of herself. When she found out it was going to wind up in a museum, she was just beyond words,” her granddaughter said.

“She’s the face to a time period when [thousands of] Italian immigrants moved to this country, were working hard and trying to live out an American dream to create better lives for themselves and their families,” Jennifer Pulsone said. “Today that is still the case. People are trying to come to this country, get in here and achieve those kinds of dreams.”

Between 1880 and 1920 4 million people came to the U.S. from primarily southern Europe, and then an additional 1 million in the years that followed, according to the Italian American Museum’s founder and president Dr. Joseph Scelsa. After five years of being shuttered, the museum at 151 Mulberry Street is scheduled to reopen in late July or early August pending building permits. Its remodeling has been a $7.5 million investment, Scelsa said.

A bit surprised, but happy about the level of interest in Pulsone’s statue, Scelsa said, “This is what we want to do. We want to tell the whole story of the Italian experience in America. This is a significant part of it.”