Statue of Isis

A bronze statue of an Egyptian goddess sits along a park path in the morning fog.
"Isis, Goddess of Life," sculpture by Auguste Puttemans

NPS Photo/Patricia McInroy

Quick Facts
West Branch, Iowa
Part of Herbert Hoover National Historic Site

Audio Description, Benches/Seating, Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Scenic View/Photo Spot, Trash/Litter Receptacles, Water - Drinking/Potable, Wheelchair Accessible

"I am that which was and is and
Will ever be, and no mortal has yet
Lifted the veil which covers me"

Inscription on the Statue of Isis, translated from French

The bronze, seven and a half foot tall statue "Isis, Goddess of Life" is the work of Belgian sculptor Auguste Puttemans. It was a gift from the people of Belgium in gratitude for Hoover's famine relief efforts on their behalf during the First World War.

Expressions of Gratitude

After the war, Herbert Hoover was sent many gifts expressing the gratitude of the Belgian people for his humanitarian efforts. Some sent him beautifully embroidered flour sacks, like those on display at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. Many Belgian children, refugees, and soldiers contributed to a fund to create this work of art.

Placement at the Historic Site

When the Belgians shipped the finished statue to California's Stanford University in 1922. It remained on campus until the President and Mrs. Hoover brought it to West Branch in 1939. They wanted it to be placed in a position where it was contemplating the house, which is why Isis sits in her throne-like chair facing the Birthplace Cottage.

Dedication to Children's Causes

The Statue of Isis represents just one of Hoover's many efforts regarding children's welfare. As President he increased the budget for children's programs. After his presidency, Hoover was chairman of the Boys' Clubs of America for 25 years. He raised money and helped open 500 new chapters. Hoover's global relief work also inspired the creation of UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, a leading advocate for children's welfare and rights around the world.

The Mysterious Goddess

Isis wears a veil, a symbol of the mysteries of life. Her right hand carries the torch of life-its three flames represent the past, present, and future. Her left hand holds the key of life. An ancient Egyptian goddess and an American President are an unlikely pairing. But it provides a powerful visual link between Hoover's childhood and his life's dedication to the welfare of others.

Herbert Hoover National Historic Site

Last updated: November 7, 2021