Philly: The Mural City!
Did you know that Philly has more murals than anywhere outside of Rome?
Born out of the Anti-Graffiti Network, established by the city in 1984, Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program is a non-profit organization that’s created almost 4,000 murals throughout The City of Brotherly Love. As the city has grown, construction projects have obscured some of the art, but over 2,000 murals are still visible today. The largest is “How Philly Moves.” It covers nearly 85,000 square feet and can be found at the Philadelphia International Airport. It is the second largest mural in the world!
Mural Arts is more than just paintings. It’s public art with a mission. In addition to making the city a more beautiful place, the murals serve as a platform for the voices of everyday Philadelphians. Projects often highlight important figures and themes from the city’s history. The Mural Arts Program works with community members to create projects that develop a sense of cooperation and communal ownership. Crafting these works of art bring together new friends, help to represent diversity, and empower people to make change in the city.
Philly’s murals are created by about as diverse a group as you can imagine, ranging from school-aged kids to world-renowned artists. In almost every nook and cranny of the city, you can find works crafted by Mural Arts Philadelphia.
In addition to offering various arts youth education programs, Mural Arts sponsors programs that are directed towards achieving universal health and wellness, and focus on working with Philadelphians dealing with mental health issues or trauma. Their “Reimagining Reentry” and “Restorative Justice” programs offer training and apprenticeship opportunities to artists impacted by the criminal justice system. The Mural Arts’ “Porch Light” programs provide support and artmaking opportunities to Philly residents challenged by substance use and homelessness. The “Mural Arts Institute” works to spread the public art model to other cities.
Mural Arts Philadelphia believes that “Art Ignites Change” and because of this, each mural is designed to lift up local leaders, give tribute to community heroes, or serve as visual reminders of who each community is, who they’ve been, and who they hope to become.
Why wouldn’t you want to check out such an awesome organization? It’s a win-win situation: you get to see some great art while supporting some more-than worthwhile causes. Hop on a trolley tour to view murals in your choice of Philly neighborhoods, or take a walking tour. You can go for the self-guided option, or take a tour led by Mural Arts Philadelphia volunteers. For more information and to discover all the ways you can support Mural Arts Philadelphia, take a listen to the “Art Ignites Change” podcast, browse the Mural Arts blog, or download the Mural Finder app. All are available on the Mural Arts Philadelphia website.
Written by Jenna, a local expert guide for Philly Crawling. A recent escapee from the corporate world, she enjoys volunteering and spending time with family. She’s a pet lover, self-proclaimed beer geek, travel enthusiast, and aspiring foodie. Join Jenna for history and beer on Philly Crawling’s Liberty Pub Crawl.