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Liberty Bell Will Survive Attack, Curators Say

April 08, 2001|From Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — The Liberty Bell will survive the scars it sustained after a self-described wanderer struck the famous landmark with a hammer four times, curators said.

The lip of the 249-year-old symbol of freedom was chipped and dented, but the Philadelphia Museum of Art's conservation department made cosmetic repairs. Permanent repairs are planned.

"There are lots of different dents, and the damage isn't all from this century or the century before. The Liberty Bell has a long history of use and abuse," said Philadelphia Museum of Art curator Andrew Lins.

Authorities said Mitchell Guilliatt, 26, took a small hammer out of his backpack during a tour Friday and hit the bell. He was tackled by a National Park Service ranger and apprehended by park service police, said Phil Sheridan, a park service spokesman.

Guilliatt, who described himself to authorities as "a wanderer" from Nebraska, was to be charged with damaging U.S. property and a related charge for historical damage, Assistant U.S. Atty. Mitchell Goldberg said. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.

Park officials said they would review security at Philadelphia's popular tourist attraction but were hesitant to make drastic changes. The bell is surrounded by velvet ropes and visitors are asked not to touch it.

"One of the great things about the Liberty Bell is you can have a personal experience. It's at eye level and not behind glass," Sheridan said.

The pavilion where the 2,000-pound, 3-foot-high bell is housed was reopened about three hours after the attack.

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