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The Day Atlanta Stood Still: Remembering the Orly Crash

At the time, it was the deadliest crash in aviation history. On Sunday morning, June 3, 1962, Atlanta was stunned by the news that a plane carrying 122 of its citizens had crashed on take-off at Orly Airfield near Paris, France. The Day Atlanta Stood Still is their story – the story of who they are, what brought them together in death, how a city was torn apart by their losses, and how that city was changed by the determination to honor them.

The group traveled to Paris to explore the city’s rich art culture and to learn more about how to cultivate art in their home city of Atlanta. As a result, the city responded to this sudden and enormous loss by doing just that, developing a rich art culture through the Memorial Arts Building at the Woodruff Arts Center.

In the half a century since, the Woodruff became the largest visual and performing arts center in the Southeast with a transforming impact on the cultural and economic development of Atlanta. The Woodruff, which today is home to the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the High Museum of Art, and Young Audiences, serves more than 1.4 million people annually and established Midtown as the cultural center of Atlanta.

Sunday, June 3rd marks the 50th anniversary of the plane crash at Paris’s Orly Airport. To commemorate the event that wound up benefiting the city by establishing a deeply rooted and invested arts community, Woodruff Art Center is hosting a special Community Day of free activities at each of The Woodruff’s divisions, including an art installation from the musée du Louvre on June 3 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Families are invited to enjoy these activities and many more:
•An Instrument Petting Zoo with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
•A reading of Pearl Cleage’s “Wish You Were Here” – a poem written for the anniversary – at the Alliance Theatre, which will also host acting workshops and performances of “Waiting for Balloon”
•Admission to the High and family art workshops
•Hands-on activities such as storytelling, puppet shows, a community art project, multi-cultural music and more by Young Audiences, including a reading of “The Story of Orly” by Barry Stewart Mann

For more information about the Woodruff Arts Center Community Day, please visit their website.