Born and raised in the Philadelphia/South Jersey area, we never grow tired of heading to the city. This week we visited the National Liberty Museum and boy was it a treat. Located in Old City, Philadelphia, the National Liberty Museum is more than worth a visit by locals or those experiencing the area for the first time.
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October 18th was our 44th wedding anniversary and we both took a day off to spend it together. There is always something new and interesting in this bustling city, so we left early driving in rather than taking the speed line.
John choose the National Liberty Museum for this days outing. We hadn’t visited before and I thought it would be another museum about the history of the early days of our country relating to Philadelphia.
Instead, we found an amazing little gem located just two blocks from Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and Independence Visitor Center.
The National Liberty Museum
Philadelphia is a city full of wonderful museums and the National Liberty Museum might be considered a smaller one. But such a treasure with each exhibit so well done.
From real-life stories of character and courage, the museum takes you through scenes that will move and astound. People who willingly gave to help others and preserve freedom. Many gave their lives in that pursuit. This image moves me every time I see it. It is New York Firefighter Tony James while attending a funeral service for Fire Department Chaplain Reverend Mychal Judge. Rev. Judge was instantly killed by flying debris when he rushed to the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 to offer aid and prayers when one of the towers collapsed.
It is displayed with others murals, just as you enter the building, of people who displayed bravery, courage and who Live Like a Hero.
The climb of courage
The Climb of Courage, a lovely work by Tolla Inbar, is a tribute to people who rise above adversity to achieve their highest ambitions. In the stairwell is part of a three-story tribute to Heroes of 9/11.
The Museum Founder
Life-long Philadelphian publisher, philanthropist and art collector, Irvin Borowsky, founded the National Liberty Museum. As the youngest of Polish immigrants seeking new opportunities in America, he had a profound appreciation for what America offered.
The Flame Room
On the entry level floor, in the center of the gallery is a magnificent, 21-ft. Flame of Liberty by Dale Chihuly. The flame weighs 841 pounds: 546 pounds of glass and 295 pounds of steel for the structural armature. Borowsky asked Chihuly to bring a vision of liberty to life that reflected the strength and fragility of freedom and the Flame shines bright in the center of the museum.
The Flame shines bright as the lighting changes with deep purples and reds illuminating the room while visitors are inspired by words, images and voices.
What is a Hero
(excerpt from museum placard)
Certainly, no person ever plans to become a hero or imagines risking one’s life to save others. Yet there are many in our nation’s history who perform extraordinary feats to help fellow citizens. Why did these people take risks beyond bravery? Perhaps it is simply the human connection and conscience operating at the finest level imaginable.
Ordinary people, extraordinary courage
Throughout the museum, stories of people from many walks of life and many different venues are shared. Moving stories. Stories that inspire. Stories that cause me to realize my own trials and difficulties pale in light of great adversity many have overcome. Or even deeper, the experiences that cost so greatly.
Located in the center of the Museum between galleries, is an exhibit titled Inspiration. It honors Americans who have faced physical, cognitive or psychological challenges with courage, determination and hope. Many honored in this exhibit are well-known individuals, who are highly successful in their fields. Take the time to read the short narrative of those who have overcome.
Heroes of Liberty from Around the World
The Flame of Liberty extends through the center of this gallery where you will see many heroes who made great sacrifices including Anne Frank’s Secret Annex, and Nelson Mandela’s jail cell where he spent 27 years of his life.
I cannot imagine living in a scene like this. During World War II, at the age of just 15, Felix Zandman lost his family together with all the Jewish inhabitants in Grodno, Poland and were deported to death camps by the Germans. Felix escaped.
The Puchalski family, devout Catholics who loved people of all faiths bravely risked their own safety and that of their family hiding Felix and four other Jews for seventeen months in a hole under their small house. Living on water and potatoes they survived. Had they been discovered all would had been killed.
After the war, Felix went to Paris, France and earned a Doctorate in Physics where he made several inventions in the field of electronics and in 1956 he came to Philadelphia and built a company.
It is stories like Felix’s along with many others that makes this museum stand out leaving visitors with a deepened sense of appreciation.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Voyage to Liberty
Explore the Voyage to Liberty gallery filled with stained glass biblical scenes by Maurice Gareau. This gallery examines the journey of American liberty, and introduces you to citizens who helped shape America’s freedoms by using their First Amendment rights to advance liberty for themselves and others.
Located in the center of the Museum between galleries, this exhibit honors Americans who have faced physical, cognitive or psychological challenges with courage, determination and hope. Many honored in this exhibit are well-known individuals, who are highly successful in their fields.
If you visit
The National Liberty Museum is a great place to visit with or without kids in historic Philadelphia. Dedicated to preserving America’s heritage of freedom, highlighting people of courage, bravery and heroism around the world. It is great destination for families with older children and teens to teach them the importance of being active citizens.
I suggest that you plan two hours and take the time to read the exhibits and watch the short videos.
Visit the website: National Liberty Museum
321 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106 (Just 2 blocks from Independence Hall, Liberty Bell & Independence Visitors Center)
General admission: Adults: $9, Seniors $7, Students 13-21 $5, Children 5-12 $4 (accompanied by an adult), Children under 5 free. Family admission $20 (includes two adults & two children).
We park at Autopark Old City because it is convenient and just a short walk to the museum. Get in before 9 o’clock am for a reduced price. Located at 125 S 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19106
John and I frequent this part of Philadelphia and have many delightful day trips here. We enjoy coffee, an egg bagel and often a biscotti here at the Customs House Coffee (Double Shots) waiting for the museums to open. It is a cozy place for conversation, so I thought I’d mention it to you. If you want to visit, the address is 211 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19106
Here is a pic of the outside ~ a relaxed option for coffee drinks, breakfast sandwiches & baked goods, plus seating and Wi-Fi.
Note about the Liberty Bell
The bell located in the entrance area (shown in the first photo of this post) is an exact replica of the original Liberty Bell that currently hangs in Independence Mall. It was made in England by the same manufacturer and from the same mold.
The inscription is from the Biblical Book of Leviticus: “Proclaim Liberty throughout All the Land and Unto All the Inhabitants Therof.”
An end to a lovely day
After visiting the museum and a late lunch we headed home to our waiting puppy. It was a short drive to the dog park for a free romp in the gorgeous October sun. Sometimes three isn’t always a crowd 😉
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