Who's on top of the Brooklyn Museum?


Who is represented in the statues around the top of the Brooklyn Museum? There are also names of famous philosophers and religious figures under them, but they don't seem to be related. There are more statues than names; plus, some of the statues are women, and all of the names are men.—Ethan L.


The statues on the top of the Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Pkwy at Washington Ave; 718-638-5000, brooklynmuseum.org) are indeed unrelated to the names below them. Daniel Chester French designed the building in 1909; he's the same guy who carved Abe out of marble for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The 12-foot allegorical figures symbolize notable stages in the history of civilization. For example, Greek Architecture depicts a woman in a toga with an Ionic column in her hand, and The Hebrew Law Giver is a man in a robe with a tablet in his left arm.

Below the statues, the names of historical men known for their contributions to art, science, literature and philosophy are carved into the facade. Generally the names are unrelated to the figures above them, but there are exceptions: The Indian Religion and Chinese Philosophy statues stand above the names Buddha and Confucius, respectively, while the Roman Law and Roman Epic statues stand above the names Justinian and Virgil.