'Zhdun' (Homunculus Loxodontus) – Leiden, Netherlands - Atlas Obscura
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'Zhdun' (Homunculus Loxodontus)

Leiden University Medical Center

This Dutch art piece became a Russian icon. 

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When entering the Leiden University Medical Center, one may not expect to come across a sculpture of a strange creature. 

“Homunculus Loxodontus” was the name given to a humanoid, elephant seal sculpture crafted by Margriet van Breevoort in 2016. It was designed for a yearly statue exhibition in the city. The sculpture was voted most popular by the people and was purchased by the hospital shortly after. It was the second sculpture Van Breevoort created and her most popular work to date. 

The patiently waiting creature somehow struck a chord with many people and eventually became the most photographed object in the city for a short while. Just as the buzz around the piece was dying down, a Russian-speaking tourist came across the statue in early 2017 and published its image on Russian-speaking social media websites. The sculpture was then transformed into an immensely popular meme.

The statue got the Russian name “Zhdun,” roughly translated to “the one who waits.” Shortly after, the image could be found on various objects such as toys. Replica statues were also crafted, and a cartoon was commissioned featuring the character.

Meanwhile, the original is still patiently waiting in the hall of the hospital, often visited by tourists. 

Know Before You Go

The hospital is open 24/7 and freely accessible. The statue is usually at the main entrance, but does get moved from time to time. If you can't find it, just ask the person at the desk.