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Marshall Fredericks waves while attending the unveiling of "Freedom of the Human Spirit" in Shain Park

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Marshall Fredericks waves while attending the unveiling of "Freedom of the Human Spirit" in Shain Park


Animal sculpture--20th century.
Bronze sculpture, American--20th century.
Figure sculpture, American--20th century.
Fredericks, Marshall M., 1908-1998
Outdoor sculpture--United States.
Public sculpture, American


The businessmen backers of the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair aspired to produce an economic boom for the city that would rival the hugely successful New York World’s Fair of 1939-40 that brought more than 44 million visitors to the city. Many of these planners, kids during the ’39-40 Fair, hoped that the experience would be as memorable for their children and families has it had been for them. Dedicated to “Man’s Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe,” the Fair’s theme was “Peace through Understanding.”

The Fair’s Sculpture Committee requested that Marshall Fredericks submit a proposal for a sculpture to be included at the event. Fredericks submitted several sketches and the Committee selected a sketch of two figures with swans. Originally the figures in the sketch had wings, but the review panel requested that Fredericks remove them in the final sculpture. According to the artist, the sculpture “depicts human figures as if soaring in migratory flights with huge swans, an ancient symbol of eternal life.”

One of four major sculptures at the Fair, the sculpture stood in the Court of States at the entrance of the U S Government Pavilion. This marked the second time Fredericks contributed a sculpture to a New York World’s Fair, as he previously exhibited a fountain at the 1939 Fair. The Freedom of the Human Spirit still stands at its original location in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens borough.

In 1983, Fredericks donated the design for this sculpture to his adopted hometown of Birmingham, Michigan in honor of the city’s fiftieth anniversary. Erected in Shain Park, the city financed the sculpture through generous donations from over one thousand individuals and corporations. In 2009, the city of Birmingham renovated the park and relocated the sculpture to an area in the center of the park.

A small-scale casting of Freedom of the Human Spirit also serves as the annual Communications Award for the International Center for the Disabled (ICD), an organization of which Fredericks was a longtime benefactor.


Lagerkvist, James B.


Marshall M. Fredericks Papers
Series V, Box 13 Folder 12




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Birmingham (Mich.)

Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Color print

Physical Dimensions

4" x 6"