• When you open the front doors of a building and enter, you would be greeted by this statue or painting.
  • After you enter a campus by car, you would encounter this sculpture or fountain.
  • An building's vestibule, or foyer would often have this prominent statue or painting.
  • A cemetery would have a statue right behind its front gates.
  • In the Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C., it would be the elephant.

What would you call this artwork or decoration placement?

  • The Fénykövi Elephant is the _______ of the Museum of Natural History.
    – William C
    May 26, 2014 at 17:51

6 Answers 6


According to my wife, who is trained in Art History, this is a marquee piece from the word marquee meaning a sign placed at the entrance of a building.


Consider the term "centerpiece"

(n.) an item or issue intended to be a focus of attention: the tower is the centerpiece of the park.

Definition from New Oxford American Dictionary

The Fénykövi Elephant is the centerpiece of the Museum of Natural History.

  • 1
    That's relative to the room though, not the entire building or campus. E.g., you wouldn't actually say "The Fénykövi Elephant is the centerpiece of the Museum of Natural History," because it's not. May 26, 2014 at 22:05
  • 1
    Agreed @SevenSidedDie; centerpiece is a very poor suggestion for the nuances of the word being requested.
    – Pockets
    May 26, 2014 at 22:38
  • Isn't centerpiece in the center? Or maybe it is the most important in some cases. Either way really not the question. May 28, 2014 at 6:01
  • @RyeɃreḁd figuratively speaking, yes.
    – njboot
    May 28, 2014 at 12:02

If this piece of art puts you in the right mood for the rest of the exhibits, if it has the same functions as a starter course in a meal you could say:

The Fénykövi Elephant is the tone setter art piece of the Museum of Natural History.

Tone setter a person or thing that establishes the quality or character that is to be followed subsequently

or, more figuratively, borrowing from music and drama:

The Fénykövi Elephant is the opening act of the Museum of Natural History.


I think that this artworks usually located in important parts of buildings so that they can be very visible and attract the attention of guests or visitors can be called: high spots or focal points.

  • The artwork is called high spots? What if the painting is of squares? May 28, 2014 at 5:57
  • OP is quite generic regarding the definition of an artwork ( statue, fountain, elephant, or paintings) so depending on the context, high spot or focal point may fit, I think.
    – user66974
    May 28, 2014 at 6:16
  • Can you use high spots in a sentence? May 28, 2014 at 6:29

How about the word frontispiece?

  • I looked it up, and it exists. Why don't posters give an explanation or at least provide a link?
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 28, 2014 at 7:46

Centerpieces have specific names:

Nef is an extravagant table ornament and container used in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, made of precious metals in the shape of a ship

Pergne is a type of table centerpiece, usually made of silver, but may be made of any metal or glass or porcelain.

A collectors piece is generally prominently exhibited

  • A collectors piece is probably displayed in a collector's home. The other two answers... I have no idea how you came up with them. May 28, 2014 at 5:59
  • @RyeɃreḁd next time you are in a museum, I Double Dog Dare Ya to ask a docent
    – Third News
    May 28, 2014 at 6:24
  • I am at art museums all the time. I will ask them where they are keeping the nef and pergne. They will have the same expression as I did when reading the answer. May 28, 2014 at 6:27

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