Aero Memorial (1948)

by Paul Manship (1885 – 1966)

Photo Caption: Photo James Abbott © 2006 for the Association for Public Art
Aviator Park, Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 20th Street
1948

  • Title

    Aero Memorial

  • Artist

    Paul Manship (1885 – 1966)

  • Year

    1948; installed 1950

  • Medium

    Bronze, on granite base

  • Dimensions

    Height 8′ (base 9’8”)

  • Themes

    War Memorials

Commissioned by the Fairmount Park Art Association (now Association for Public Art) and Aero Club of Pennsylvania

Owned by the City of Philadelphia


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At A Glance

  • Part of the Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO program

  • Dedicated to the aviators who died in World War I

  • Illustrates the signs of the zodiac

  • Paul Manship is also known for Duck Girl in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square and Prometheus in New York City’s Rockefeller Center

The bronze sphere opposite the main entrance of the Franklin Institute is dedicated to the aviators who died in World War I. Inscribed with the Latin names of constellations and planets, the Aero Memorial illustrates the signs of the zodiac in a style that recalls both classicism and Art Deco.

Manship had already executed a number of similar spheres, including one for the Woodrow Wilson Memorial

The artist Paul Manship was a leading figure in American sculpture for several decades. Profoundly influenced by classical Roman and archaic Greek Art, he received many major sculpture awards in the United States and abroad, and his famous Prometheus dominates Rockefeller Center in New York. Duck Girl in Rittenhouse Square is one of his early works.

Aero Memorial
Photo Caitlin Martin © for the Association for Public Art

The idea for Aero Memorial was conceived by the Aero Club of Pennsylvania, which donated modest funds for the purpose to Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art) in 1917. Fundraising took many years and the work did not begin until 1939, when the Art Association contacted Manship.

The idea of a celestial sphere was finally approved in 1944. Manship had already executed a number of similar spheres, including one for the Woodrow Wilson Memorial at the League of Nations in Geneva.

Adapted from Public Art in Philadelphia by Penny Balkin Bach (Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 1992).

 

Museum Without Walls logo: a program of the Association for Public Art

 

Voices heard in the program:

David Contosta is the author of Philadelphia Family: The Houstons and Woodwards of Chestnut Hill.

Erik Natti is a retired teacher and Paul Manship’s grandson.

Rebecca Reynolds is an art historian and author of Manship: Paul, John, Margaret – A Retrospective.

Segment Producer: Lu Olkowski

A program of the Association for Public Art (formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association), Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO is an innovative and accessible outdoor sculpture audio program for Philadelphia’s preeminent collection of public art.

User calls Museum Without Walls Audio for Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture
Photo Albert Yee © 2010 for the Association for Public Art

A “multi-platform” interactive audio experience – available for free by cell phone, mobile app, audio download, or on the web – Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO offers the unique histories that are not typically expressed on outdoor permanent signage.

Unlike audio tours that have a single authoritative guide or narrator, each speaker featured in Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO is an “authentic voice” – someone who is connected to the sculpture by knowledge, experience, or affiliation.

Over 150 unique voices are featured, including artists, educators, scientists, writers, curators, civic leaders, and historians.

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This artwork is part of the Along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway tour

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