The Griffith Observatory Murals

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The artist portrays Archytas of Tarentium with his wooden pigeon; then Roger Bacon with his floating ball; Francesco de Lana with a flying boat model; Leonardo da Vinci, whose models perhaps needed only an engine; and Besnier, gliding successfully in 1678.

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On the left, Arzachel consults his early astronomical tables. John of Holywood works on an influential astronomical text. Copernicus, who replaced the Earth with the Sun as the center of the solar system, stands near Galileo, whose telescope is dwarfed by a modern version.



On the left, an ancient Egyptian stands before a pyramid, an impressive monument to ancient engineering. Two grappling figures represent forces within the earth associated with inevitable earthquakes which engineers must build to withstand. Modern engineering is represented by a surveyor and Hoover Dam.

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Geology and Biology


An old man symbolic of geology holds a card showing mineral crystals. Through a microscope, a biologist studies life with a chicken embryo, plant, and crab below. A man symbolizing paleontology shows a saber-toothed cat skull, with a fish skeleton below.

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Metalurgy and Electricity


On the left, St. Florian, patron of metallurgists, sits pouring water over fire beneath a converter for steel-making. a kite and key recall Benjamin Franklin's discovery of lightning's electrical nature. Otto von Guericke holds an early device which produced electricity through friction.

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To the left an Aztec points to an ancient calendar stone. Emperor Yao of China sits witnessing the execution of magicians who failed to prevent a solar eclipse. On the right is Ulugh Begh, grandson of Tamerlane and keen celestial observer.

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Explanatory text from


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