Welcoming to Freedom (1939)

by Maurice Sterne (1878 - 1957)

Photo Caption: Photo Alec Rogers © 2014 for the Association for Public Art
Central Terrace of Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial Sculpture Garden (north of Boathouse Row on Kelly Drive)

  • Title

    Welcoming to Freedom

  • Artist

    Maurice Sterne (1878 - 1957)

  • Year


  • Medium

    Bronze, on granite base

  • Dimensions

    Height 13′ 4″, width 8', depth 4' (base height 3′ 1″, width 9', depth 4'6")

Commissioned by the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art), bequest of Ellen Phillips Samuel

Owned by the City of Philadelphia

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At A Glance

The Fairmount Park Art Association’s (now the Association for Public Art) Samuel Committee originally chose Gaston Lachaise to create the bronze group symbolizing “the welcoming of the oppressed from all lands.” But when Lachaise died in 1935 after completing only a quarter-scale model, the committee chose Maurice Sterne to replace him.

Sterne, a Russian-American painter, printmaker, and sculptor, was known for the controlled poise of his works. His Welcoming to Freedom represents two male figures, one standing with arms raised in welcome, the other seated and gesturing in solidarity. Sterne had been an early teacher of Robert Laurent, whose Spanning the Continent can also be found in the Central Terrace of the Ellen Phillip Samuel Memorial.

Central Terrace of the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial on Kelly Drive
Photo Caitlin Martin © 2010 for the Association for Public Art

The Central Terrace of the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial

Construction of the Samuel Memorial began with the Central Terrace. Six sculptors were commissioned to create two large bronze monuments and four complementary figures in limestone. These works express the twin themes of America’s westward expansion and the new nation’s welcome to immigrants from other lands.

Sculptures in the Central Terrace:

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



Voices heard in the program:

Penny Balkin Bach is the former Executive Director of the Association for Public Art (formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association) and the author of many books and articles about Philadelphia’s public art.

Kathleen A. Foster is Robert L. McNeil, Jr., Senior Curator of American Art and Director of the Center for American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Michael Taylor was Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the author of Jacques Lipchitz and Philadelphia.

Segment Producer: Amanda Aronczyk and Ave Carrillo

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, or on our website – 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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