’50s Atomic Age art at Pomona College


An atomic whirl that adorned a Pomona College science hall since 1958 is back with a new coat of paint after 18 months in storage as the building was torn down and rebuilt. Sculptor Albert Stewart crafted the piece for the opening of Millikan Lab and it’s added a dose of verve to the facade ever since. I write about the sculpture and the symbol, as well as the refurbished building, in Wednesday’s column.

Below is a view of the sculpture and building in 2013 by the college’s Carrie Rosema. Notice the piece is against a blank facade — the window is just one of the improvements.


Below are Stewart’s two other sculptures across College Avenue, one illustrating mitosis, from the Seaver South biology building, and the second depicting particles, from the Seaver North chemistry building. (I’ll have to take everyone’s word for it.) All three are cited in Charles Phoenix’s “Cruising the Pomona Valley 1930 Thru 1970” guidebook.



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  • DebB

    These are the kinds of things that you see but don’t see, if you know what I mean. They’re just building decorations, until you really look at them and learn their history and meaning. Really interesting!

    • davidallen909

      Glad you think so!

  • Bob House
  • Richard_Pietrasz

    I love these. Harvey Mudd has some interesting stuff along that line as well, despite being featured on a list of 20 ugliest college campuses.

    I hadn’t realised Pomona C had a Milliken building. Millikan may have transformed Caltech into a world class institution, but their building named after him was demoted from the central library to a mere administration building.