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Orly air crash remembered with Atlanta art exhibit | News

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Orly air crash remembered with Atlanta art exhibit

ATLANTA -- An unusual art exhibit at the Millenium Gate Museum serves as a history lesson. 

"I just thought people need to know. It's tragic and forgotten," said artist Katherine Bell McClure, curator of "The Orly Tragedy Through the Eyes of Artists." 

PHOTO GALLERY | Orly Tragedy Art Exhibit

On June 3rd, 1962, 130 people were killed when their charter plane crashed at Orly Airport near Paris. 

Most of the victims were members of the Atlanta Arts Association, on their way home from a three-week arts tour of Europe.

"These were the leading citizens, business leaders and attorneys," said Buckhead Heritage Society President Wright Mitchell. "They were the driving force behind the arts movement at that time. And in one fell swoop, they were gone." 

"Over 50 children lost one or both parents in the crash," he said. 

The crash inspired the creation of the Memorial Arts Building, now called the Woodruff Arts Center.

Today, the names of 106 Atlanta victims are listed at the Millennium Gate Georgia History Museum.

"There are many people, especially if you grew up in Atlanta, who don't realize how close to this tragedy they really are," Mitchell said. 

The Buckhead Heritage Society organized the exhibit to mark the 50th anniversary.

There are 27 pieces inspired by the crash or the culture, including one by Steve Penley.

"I asked him to pick something from that era, and he picked 'To Kill A Mockingbird,'" McClure said. "And he took it a step further by turning it into a suitcase for travelers to really tie it into Orly."

It's art inspired by history.

"It still reverberates to this day, 50 years later," Wright said.

The art will be sold during a reception and auction on Saturday night. Proceeds will support the Buckhead Historic & Cultural Resources Initiative of the Buckhead Heritage Society.