Kopernik (1972)

by Dudley Talcott (1899 - 1986)

Photo Caption: Photo James Abbott © 2006 for the Association for Public Art
18th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway
1972

  • Title

    Kopernik

  • Artist

    Dudley Talcott (1899 - 1986)

  • Year

    1972; installed 1973

  • Medium

    Stainless steel, on red granite base

  • Dimensions

    Height 12′, width 16', depth 5'7" diameter 16′ (base height 11’8″)

Commissioned by a committee of Polish-Americans of Philadelphia

Owned by the City of Philadelphia


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At A Glance

  • Part of the Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO program

  • Commissioned by a committee of Polish Americans formed to honor Kopernik on the 500th anniversary of his birth

  • The 16-foot circle symbolizes the earth’s orbit; fixed at the center is the sun, its rays extending to infinity

Mikolaj Kopernik (1473–1543), better known by the Latinized version of his name, Nicolaus Copernicus, laid the foundations of modern astronomy. In an age when philosophers and the Church believed that the entire universe centered on the earth, the Polish mathematician and churchman dared to suppose that the earth revolved around the sun.

The angular framework alludes to Kopernik’s homemade astronomical instruments, some of which were exhibited at the Franklin Institute before the sculpture’s unveiling

The memorial sculpture by Connecticut artist Dudley Talcott was commissioned and donated to the city by a committee of Polish Americans formed to honor Kopernik on the 500th anniversary of his birth. In Talcott’s design, the 16-foot circle symbolizes the earth’s orbit; fixed at the center is the sun, its rays extending to infinity.

The angular framework alludes to Kopernik’s homemade astronomical instruments, some of which were exhibited at the Franklin Institute before the sculpture’s unveiling. The 1973 dedication of Kopernik climaxed a year-long celebration of ethnic heritage by Philadelphia’s large community of Polish Americans.

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

Dudley Talcott's Kopernik sculpture with the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul
Photo Caitlin Martin © 2010 for the Association for Public Art

 

RESOURCES:

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

 

Voices heard in the program:

Derrick H. Pitts is Chief Astronomer and Director of the Fels Planetarium at the Franklin Institute.

Joseph L. Zazyczny is the former President of the Polish Heritage Society.

Segment Producer: Ann Heppermann

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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