Monday, June 1, 2009

Astronomers Monument

Towering above the lawn at the north entrance of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angels stands a white monument which pays homage to six of the greatest astronomers of all time: Hipparchus , Nicholas Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, Isaac Newton and William Herschel. Their names are engraved under a carved statue of eah of the astronomers. An 8.5-inch-tall resin miniature replica of the Astronomers Monument is available from the Observatory’s gift shop. The real Astronomers Monument is a concrete sculpture designed and executed by sculptor L. Archibald Garner in 1934.The monument is a product of the great depression, when New Deal initiatives created federally funded work programs to employ skilled workers in many fields at a time when they would otherwise remain idle and without income. One of the first of these programs, the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), began in December 1933. Soon thereafter, in cooperation with the Los Angeles Park Commission, PWAP commissioned a sculpture project on the grounds of the new Observatory (which was under construction). Using a design by local artist Archibald Garner and materials donated by the Women's' Auxiliary of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, Garner and five other artists sculpted and cast the concrete monument and figures. Each artist was responsible for sculpting one astronomer; one of the artists, George Stanley, was also the creator of the famous Academy Award "Oscar" statuette. The only "signature" on the Astronomers Monument is "PWAP 1934" referring to the federal agency which funded the project and the year it was completed. If you missed it, you’ll find my post about the Griffith Observatory and it’s building replica here. The L.A. Times published a package about the Griffith Observatory's repening with a sunrise video, 360-degre view, photo galleries and interative map.


Anonymous said...

Don't forget that the WPA also helped in the construction of other Monuments and miniature buildings as well. SWD

Dave said...

Hey SWD, if you know of other WPA monuments and related building souvenirs, send me a list of them and I'll write about them. Thanks, Dave

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