Preserving Freedom at the National Liberty Museum

By Robin Bloom, PHLCVB

The Flame of Liberty ignites in Philadelphia's Old City

When the National Liberty Museum opened in 2000, founder Irvin Borowsky proclaimed, “We, who are fortunate enough to live in the land of liberty, must protect it, preserve it and guard it for future generations.”

Since then, the museum, nestled into the historic district in Philadelphia, has taken its place – just a block away from Independence Hall – seriously with a mission to reinforce the basic principles for safeguarding liberty, including heroism, empathy, and the appreciation of diversity.

The Flame of Liberty at the National Liberty Museum. Photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

Built to remind visitors that liberty is the factor that makes everything else possible, the Museum’s signature centerpiece is the Flame Gallery which features the 21-ft Flame of Liberty by renowned glass sculptor, Dale Chihuly. The stunning glass flame represents the power of liberty that can spread from a spark and erupts into vibrant colors, accompanied by a 360° immersive display.

The Heroes from Around the World exhibit with the Flame of Liberty centerpiece at the National Liberty Museum. Photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

The Flame of Liberty extends to the second floor which features the Heroes from Around the World exhibit that includes a replica of Nelson Mandela’s jail cell on Robben Island and the annex where Anne Frank was hidden.

The Voyage to Liberty Gallery at the National Liberty Museum. Photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

The Voyage to Liberty gallery examines the journey of American liberty and the citizens who helped shape America’s freedoms by using their First Amendment rights to advance liberty for themselves and others. Through stained glass biblical scenes by Maurice Gareau and other art and imagery, the exhibit focuses on religious freedom and the principles upon which the country was founded.

The Jellybean Children sculpture at the National Liberty Museum. Photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

Heroes of Liberty honors those who live among us, including teachers, students, police officers, firefighters, and many other ordinary citizens of diverse backgrounds, who work together to keep their communities strong and flourishing. The visit to this gallery culminates in the Jellybean Children sculpture, which represents the diversity of America.

Get up close with an exact replica of the Liberty Bell at the National Liberty Museum. Photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

While strolling the museum, take a picture with an exact replica of the Liberty Bell and browse a collection of original White House China in Liberty Hall.

The National Liberty Museum's glass gallery photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

The National Liberty Museum’s glass gallery inspires visitors to think about the fragility of liberty and how to preserve it. Seasonal exhibits complement the Museum’s permanent glass collection and feature both local and international contemporary glass artists.

Viola, by Ricky Bernstein, is featured in the exhibit Destined for the Stars. Photo courtesy of the National Liberty Museum.

On view through December 2, 2019 is Destined for the Stars, a multi-media solo exhibition by American artist Ricky Bernstein, featuring painted glass, aluminum and mixed media wall-reliefs, honoring the ordinary victories over life’s mundane challenges.

Courtesy of the National Liberty Museum.

Also on view in the Live Like a Hero Gallery is Forbidden Art, an exhibition hand-picked from the collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland. Twenty powerful images of fragile and rare examples of art – made illegally and under potentially grave consequences by Jewish and Polish prisoners in the German Nazi Auschwitz Concentration and Extermination Camp from 1940-1945 – are on display in honor of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, through April 12, 2020.

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