Looking down on the Central Library rotunda is a 40’-wide clock, the largest ceiling clock in the world.
The idea for the clock can be traced back to a dream. Lexington philanthropist Lucille Little first envisioned a clock in the library rotunda in a dream, and then donated the funds to the library in order to make her dream a reality. Using artist Adalin Wichman’s design, the Verdin clock company in Cincinnati was charged with making this clock.
The face is designed to simulate traditional clock faces with Roman numerals. However, our clock, from timekeeping to lights to chimes, is entirely digitally-controlled.
Rather than using hands to show the time like a more traditional clock, the ceiling clock uses a series of lit panels. The most brightly-lit numeral marks the current hour, and the lights in-between the numerals mark the minutes past the hour. As with traditional clock faces, every fifth minute is marked by the numerals themselves and the minutes are counted from the “XII”.
Running around the clock face below the numerals is a series of 60 horses. Look closely—the horses light up in succession giving the impression of movement. These horses are based on photographs taken in 1872 by Eadweard Muybridge. According to popular myth, he took the sequential pictures to prove that a horse has all four hooves off the ground at the peak of a gallop. His series of photographs are considered to be the origin of motion pictures.