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2 Exhibits At PHL Offer City History, Flavor

Historical images and students’ art are helping to decorate Philadelphia International (PHL).

“Picturing Liberty: Philadelphia’s Legendary Bell,” a collection of 50 black and white images of one of world’s most cherished symbols of freedom and democracy, was unveiled July 2 at the airport. Offering an insight into the Liberty Bell’s legacy, the new exhibit sits in Terminal A-East, post-security, as part of the city’s official Welcome America! festivities; it will be on display until June.

“The Liberty Bell is America, it is Philadelphia and the airport provides yet another excellent venue to proclaim that to all the world,” says Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “It is very fitting that this exhibit is dedicated as an official part of the city’s Welcome America! festivities that are in full swing as we celebrate our nation’s birthday right here in Philadelphia.”

The exhibit is comprised of images gathered from the Independence National Historical Park, Temple University’s Urban Archives, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Office of the City Representative, and documents the bell’s history. One of the earliest images depicts a scene from 1777 when, during the British occupation, the bell was removed from the city and hidden in the floorboards of the Zion Reformed Church in Allentown out of fear it would be melted down and used for cannon. Later images show the bell on its journeys across the nation, posed with presidents, mayors, foreign dignitaries and civil rights activists, and surrounded by protestors using the bell as the backdrop to communicate their message.

 “There are many aspects about the Liberty Bell that are not well known and hopefully this exhibition will reveal some of those interesting facts,” says Mark Gale, CEO of the airport. “As you look at the black and white images, which convey the historical legacy of the Liberty Bell, you’ll not only get a feel for the bell’s importance to our history but you’ll also learn some things about the bell’s history.”

In addition to the images of the bell, Wonderkammer: Cabinets of Wonder has landed at the airport. A product of The Claymobile, Philadelphia, which is the outreach component of the internationally renowned Clay Studio, and the seventh-grade class of four local schools, the exhibit consists of a unique ceramic-based work of art.

“The airport is proud to host a selection of ceramics by young students who participated in the Claymobile program,” says Gale. “It was a unique opportunity for the children to have the mobile ceramic classroom come to them, and now, their wonderful clay artworks are being enjoyed by passengers from around the world.

The Claymobile program was founded in 1994 and works with schools, community-based organizations and social service agencies throughout the regional to give disadvantaged youth innovative, hands-on approaches to learning that strengthen and enhance existing cultural programs, supplement educational curricula and serve as a catalyst for community engagement. The Claymobile is 100% mobile and can turn a classroom space into a fully functioning ceramics studio.

“Wonderkammer: Cabinets of Wonder” can be found between Terminals A-East and B through September and features four presentations – “Strange Worlds,” “Claymobile City,” “New Beginnings” and “I Love”; each represents a display from the schools: Independence Charter School, St. Mary Interparochial School, The Youth Study Center and Spruce Hill Christian School.

In other PHL news…

“Just Plane Fun” is a summerlong program that kicked off July 2 and runs through August.

The initiative aims to offer a fun and relaxing time for airport visitors with activities such as live entertainment, children’s activities, educational and information sessions from the American Red Cross, demonstrations by artists whose work has been shown at the airport, pep rallies by local pro sports teams including appearances by team mascots and promotional giveaways; there will also be an appearance by the legendary Tuskegee Airmen on Aug. 19 for a National Aviation Day celebration. Airport retailers will also be offering sales and promotions throughout the summer.

“We strive to ensure that our customers have a pleasant experience at the airport, and we also want to convey our appreciation to them for choosing Philadelphia International Airport,” Gale says. “The economic recession was difficult for the entire travel industry, and particularly hard on aviation, but we believe things are turning around and better days are ahead. We are appreciative that our travelers have chosen Philadelphia International Airport and our airlines as their transportation of choice, and we are all collectively working hard to provide the best customer service experience possible.”

For a schedule of events, visit www.phl.org.

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