“We call it the building for the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council, but in reality, it should be the nation’s home of science in America and will be looked upon by our fellow citizens and the world at large as the place where the creative mind will be able to do much to bring about a better existence for the future people of the world.” —NAS President Charles D. Walcott, 1922

1924-2024 Timeline

This gallery features a timeline of the history of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Building, and the work accomplished by the NAS in service to the public welfare, all in the context of US and world events over the past 100 years. The NAS, a private non-profit society charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology, did not have a building of its own for sixty years after its founding in March 1863. The building was completed and dedicated on April 28, 1924.

To help create a visual identity for the institution, the architect and building committee collaborated with leading artists of the time. The theme of Prometheus, who stole the fire of knowledge from the gods to bring to the world, is represented throughout the building in several forms. The timeline has been curated by Alana Quinn and Alexandra Briseno in consultation with historians Ruth Schwartz Cowan and Peter J. Westwick.

Promethean Sparks

Students at the Alain Locke School in West Philadelphia collaborated with artist and educator Ben Volta to reimagine the iconic Prometheus mural by Albert Herter and Hildreth Meière’s golden dome at the NAS Building. In collaboration with Mural Arts Philadelphia, students merged diverse scientific symbols to ignite new knowledge insights. This endeavor will result in a sister mural at the Alain Locke School in 2024, symbolizing the fusion of art and science. This project, embodying a collective exploration of scientific heritage, empowers students as creators, extending their impact on the future of discovery.

The students’ collection of unique designs reflects a journey of experimentation and learning. Embracing roles beyond their student identities, they engaged as artists, scientists, and innovators, delving into the realm of scientific imagery.

This exploration embraced the open-ended nature of inquiry, acknowledging that unexpected discoveries have the power to transform our understanding of the universe.

Pictured: Promethean Sparks, 2024 (detail).

Delivery Method

  • In Person


  • Exhibitions