Primitive Science, Modern Science
These bronze reliefs by Sidney Waugh stand over what was once the main entrance to the Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science (to give its full title). From loincloths to lab coats is less of a distance than you might think: Waugh took pains to illustrate the remarkable cleverness of the “primitive” American Indians who had long-distance communication (via smoke signals) and snowshoes, an invention Waugh chose specifically because it arose only in North America and nowhere else. As for Modern Science, we should not underestimate the difficulty of imparting dignity to a figure in a lab coat, a feat Waugh has carried off with aplomb. To a world used to the opposition of modern science against primitive superstition, Waugh presents the two figures as engaged in exactly the same enterprise.