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Birmingham Museum of Art Third Stop in State for Helen Keller Statue and Exhibit Tour
BIRMINGHAM, AL.- The Birmingham Museum of Art will host a new exhibit featuring a statue portraying the dramatic moment that Helen Keller was liberated from the “double dungeon of darkness and silence.” The exhibit was designed to raise awareness of Helen Keller and the Foundations that carry on her work – the Helen Keller Birthplace Foundation and the Helen Keller Foundation for Research and Education.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for the people of Birmingham to learn more about Helen Keller and how her oft-stated goal to end preventable blindness and deafness continues to inspire our global efforts in medical research,” said Robert Morris, M.D., president of the Helen Keller Foundation for Research and Education.

Mike McMackin, president of the Helen Keller Birthplace Foundation said, “We hope those who visit the statue will also visit Ivy Green in Tuscumbia to gain a firsthand appreciation of Helen’s remarkable ascent out of darkness and silence.”

Created by noted sculptor Edward Hlavka, the 1,000-pound bronze statue poised on a base of Sylacauga marble matches one on display in the main hall of the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center in Washington, D.C. The statue depicts the moment in 1887, when Keller’s teacher Anne Sullivan spelled "W-A-T-E-R" into her hand while holding her other hand under a water pump and Keller realized meanings were hidden in the manual alphabet shapes Sullivan had taught her to make.

The life-size image of Helen Keller as a seven-year-old was designed to be approachable and inspiring, especially to children. It is fully accessible from all sides so that all visitors, regardless of their personal limitations, may touch and feel Keller’s likeness.

Gail Andrews, director of the Birmingham Museum of Art, said that the Museum is “incredibly pleased to be a venue to host this important work. This exhibition honors the powerful story of how Helen Keller bravely overcame the obstacles she faced, and links the museum’s current educational programs to assist the visually impaired with the triumph of this important citizen of Alabama and the world.”

The statue and exhibit will be on display from mid-April through the end of May during regular museum hours on the second floor of the Birmingham Museum of Art.

Helen Keller, who lost her sight and hearing as a child, later learned to speak and earned a degree from Radcliffe College, the women's branch of Harvard University. She traveled the world as an adult, wrote 12 books and championed causes including women's suffrage and workers' rights. She was an internationally celebrated advocate for those with disabilities.

The tour, conducted jointly by the Helen Keller Foundation for Research and Education and the Helen Keller Birthplace Foundation, has made stops in Huntsville and Talladega and is scheduled to visit several locations, including:

• Birmingham Museum of Art – mid-April through May

• Ivy Green, Helen Keller Birthplace, Tuscumbia – June and July

• The Mobile Museum of Art – August and September

• Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts – October and November

• State Capitol in Montgomery – December (Final installation)

The statue’s June and July visit to Keller’s hometown of Tuscumbia coincides with the annual Helen Keller Festival sponsored by the Helen Keller Birthplace Foundation.

Also included in the exhibit are several items on loan from the American Foundation for the Blind in New York, including:

• The Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded to Helen Keller by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964;

• A Japanese lacquer musical photograph album presented by the people of Japan to Keller during her visit to their country;

• An openwork embroidered gold and silver silk thread necklace, also known as a tribal cloth, presented during a visit to Hyderabad, India in 1955;

• Academic regalia and doctoral attire presented when the University of Glasgow conferred upon Keller an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws (L.L.D.) in 1932; and

• Braille Writer presented to Keller by the Royal Society for the Blind of London.

The Birmingham Museum of Art | Helen Keller | Robert Morris |


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