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

  • Bronze, on granite base
  • Height 8' (base 9'8'')
  • Logan Square
  • Aviator Park, Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 20th Street

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 has 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).

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