The iron arches across the Central Hall continue Waterhouse’s animal theme. There are 78 monkeys climbing three of the arches, in nine different active poses, facing alternately right and left.
Waterhouse sketched the monkeys in a number of different poses. One can be seen eating an apple, another is curled up on the keystone.
The 78 monkeys on the arches were sketched out by Waterhouse to appear active and lively as they climb.
The monkeys’ prehensile tails curling around the arches suggest they are based on New World monkeys, which live in the tropical forest environments of southern Mexico, Central, and South America.
The monkeys around the arches were created in terracotta that had been put into moulds shaped from statues built to Waterhouse’s sketches.
The terracotta monkeys appear to have a life of their own as they welcome visitors to the Central Hall of the Museum.