THE priceless statues of the Stoddart Collection are once again on outdoor display in the Ballarat Botanical Gardens.Eight of the 19th Century Italian marble statues were reinstated on their pedestals yesterday, just in time for the Begonia Festival this weekend.The remaining four will be a feature of The Conservatory's Begonia display before being moved outside in coming weeks.The collection was removed from outdoor display after serious acts of vandalism in 2002, which left Hebe, Flora Farnese, Leda and Autumn badly damaged.Ballarat City Mayor Judy Verlin said the decision to return the statues to the gardens was a reason to celebrate."The Stoddart Statues are beautiful works of art which bring great joy to visitors to the gardens,'' she said.Conservator Jude Schahinger has carried out extensive restoration work, using ground marble, silicon microspheres and resins to restore surface damages.Ballarat City Council sustainability executive manager Ian Rossiter said it was an historic occasion when the statues were first unveiled in 1884."Hundreds of people came from Melbourne and sailed across Lake Wendouree on steamboats,'' he said."The governor also came and fired a cannon and unveiled them simultaneously.''Council has introduced a number of new security measures to help prevent further acts of vandalism, including heightened surveillance, lighting, fencing, and a ban on people from loitering in the gardens from dusk until dawn."We're not going to let the minority spoil it for the majority," Cr Verlin said.