You can lead a horse to Philly, but you can’t make it fit

It was a contest between the old and the really old as a Trojan horse, on the back of a flatbed truck, parked in front of historic Independence Hall. The wooden horse was carted through Philadelphia by the National Geographic Museum, on its way to Washington, D.C., where the 19-foot “Troy the Trojan Horse” will welcome visitors to the exhibition, “The Greeks: From Agamemnon to Alexander the Great.”

The horse is a recreation of the storied gift, according to the “Aeneid” of Virgil, used by Greek soldiers to trick the Trojans into opening their gates during the siege of Troy. Maneuvering the 73-foot flatbed truck through Old City’s Colonial cobblestone streets was a battle unto itself. The horse had to weave between tourist buses and around construction cranes on Philadelphia’s historically narrow streets.

“Philadelphia was built a really long time ago,” said Sara Snyder, one of National Geographic’s horse handlers baby-sitting the beast during its road trip. “Our Trojan horse has been adapted for modern times. He’s a bit bigger, a bit larger, and these streets are a bit too small.”

This particular horse was not built to hide soldiers but straddle a subway entrance in Chicago outside the Field Museum, which had just hosted “The Greeks.” The show, featuring 500 ancient artifacts never before seen outside Greece, began in Montreal and is making its way south. It is co-produced by the Field Museum, the National Geographic Museum, the Hellenic Republic Ministry of Culture and Sports, and the Canadian Museum of History.

Next week, that traveling show opens in Washington, D.C., for which the National Geographic Museum has borrowed the iconic horse from Chicago. During its journey, Troy the Trojan Horse is visiting cities with Greek names, such as Delphi, Indiana; Athens, Ohio; and, of course, Philadelphia (Greek for “Brotherly Love”).

“I get stopped quite a bit, interesting to see all the cameras pointed at me as I go down the road,” said truck driver Dave Wyman. “There’s a lot of interest.”

The horse will be assembled in front of the National Geographic Museum, until the Greek exhibition closes in October.

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