The National Liberty Museum is the culmination of Irv Borowsky’s life’s work. Mr. B, as many of us affectionately called him, was a lifelong Philadelphian, publisher, and philanthropist. He was the youngest son of two Polish immigrants who arrived here in 1904. Like millions of other immigrants, they came with only what they could carry, seeking safety and new opportunities in America. Their experience and background gave their son a profound appreciation for what their adopted country offered.
Born and raised at 3rd and Tasker Streets in South Philadelphia, Irv Borowsky was an entrepreneur from a very young age. At twelve years old, he answered an ad in Popular Mechanics for a $5 printing press. The press came with a package of type, ink and instructions. It changed his life. At the time of his father’s death, he was fourteen years old and operating his own printing business.
This was the start of a legendary career in the publishing and printing industries, which included creating and selling his magazine TV Digest (later to be called TV Guide) to Walter Annenberg in 1953 and founding the North American Publishing Company, a highly successful publisher of magazines nationwide.
When Mr. Borowsky retired, he felt profoundly compelled to give back to our nation by reminding people that liberty is what makes everything else possible. In founding our Museum, he was seeking not just to present a collection of art and artifacts, but rather to illustrate that liberty is a work in progress which requires citizens to understand, respect and care for each other. As Mr. B explained at the Museum’s opening ceremony on January 12, 2000, “We who are fortunate enough to live in the land of liberty must protect it, preserve it and guard it for future generations.”
In losing Mr. Borowsky, we have lost a mentor in the truest sense of the word. When he was still working during our first decade, Mr. B was always the first to arrive at the Museum and the last to end his day. He was intensely driven to use every second of his time productively. His passion and determination was infectious, and as a result inspired many incredible people to invest in the Museum.
The future of the National Liberty Museum is very bright thanks to the extraordinary vision and foundation Mr. Borowsky has provided us. Although we are deeply saddened by his passing, it is of great comfort that Mr. B’s legacy will live on in the galleries and ever-expanding programs of the Museum that are dedicated to teaching tomorrow’s leaders to be respectful, responsible and grateful citizens.
Mr. Borowsky’s hand has at one time touched every crevice of our galleries. Nothing would have made him happier than to welcome new friends from our region and all corners of the earth to talk, explore, learn and be inspired by the more than 2,000 liberty heroes and exquisite glass sculptures in our Museum. If you haven’t visited or been here lately, come and see our new exhibits that are introducing our mission to new generations of children, young people, families, teachers, citizens and visitors to our City.
As Mr. Borowsky said and fervently believed, “There is a time to explore and cross over the bridges that connect. That moment is now.” The statement could not be more relevant in our world today. The National Liberty Museum is a reminder to us all of the ‘Power of One’ and that we can each do something to make a positive difference, no matter how big or small.
Mr. B, we are all grateful for you,
The Staff and Board of the National Liberty Museum
THE NATIONAL LIBERTY MUSEUM
321 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
+1 (215) 925-2800