Both entrances to the National Archives Building are crowned with huge pediments, that are 118 feet long and 18 feet high in the center, with 12-foot eagles with extended wings at the ends.
"Destiny," January 12, 1936
Design by Adolph A. Weinman
Carved by Edward Ardolino Company
National Archives, Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 64
In Adolph Weinman’s highly symbolic pediment for the Pennsylvania Avenue side of the National Archives Building, an enthroned Zeus-like figure "Destiny" is flanked by figures representing "The Arts of War" and "The Arts of Peace." These are surrounded by figures representing "The Romance of History" and "The Song of Achievement." Weinman’s theme was that progress is determined by knowledge of the past: knowledge gained through documents held in the Archives.
"The Recorder of the Archives"
ca. 1935 (detail)
Design by James Earle Fraser
Modeled by Laura G. Fraser
Carved by the John Donnelly Company
Photograph by Jonathon Wallen
Fraser’s "Recorder of the Archives" pediment on the Constitution Avenue side of the building is an allegorical treatment of the archival process. In it, a male figure sits upon a throne holding the keys to the Archives. He accepts and catalogs the nation's most precious documents in a large book that rests on his lap. The throne rests upon recumbent rams, which symbolize parchment. Figures nearby accept important documents for cataloging, while other groups gather less significant ones. Winged horses symbolizing inspiration stand in the background, and groups of dogs, symbols of guardianship, are at either end of the pediment.