The Giant Heart, Aircraft Room, Franklin Institute

This is one of the most unusual jobs I’ve done. The Giant Heart exhibit, which I still think of as The Walk-Through Heart, at the Franklin Institute is apparently an icon in the minds and hearts of people in Philadelphia who, when I tell them about the job, uniformly reminisce about their first childhood experience of it.

I did a lot of research to get the colors right for a freshly harvested human heart, and the dominant interior color turned out to be exactly that of a bottle of Pepto-Bismol. Since I was using a spray gun in close quarters it was impossible not to get covered in a fine mist of livid pink paint. I would return each evening to the rather swanky hotel where I was staying, pink from head to toe (with hints of blood red and venous purple) save where my mask covered my mouth and nose. People on the elevator gave me a wide berth. See some great photos at the Franklin Institute website’s page on the Giant Heart exhibit.

Upstairs from the Giant Heart, I painted the ceiling and walls of the aircraft room. See more photos at the Franklin Air Show page.

In the adjoining room they were putting together an original Wright flyer from a kit sold by the Wrights. I asked for, and was given, a spool of original Wright brothers waxed linen string. It’s very strong stuff, and I’m sure I’ll find a good use for it eventually, but to date, its historic significance has outweighed its utility.