Aero Memorial (1948)
Paul Manship (1885–1966)

  • Aviator Park, Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 20th Street
  • Logan Square (installed 1950)
  • Bronze, on granite base
  • Height 8′ (base 9’8”)
  • Initiated by the Aero Club of Pennsylvania

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.

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.

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).

Other artworks by Paul Manship:

Duck Girl (1911), Paul Manship, Rittenhouse Square, Walnut Street between 18th and 19th Streets

Aero Memorial

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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

Vimeo Video

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