Murals, mosaics, sculptures – public art is everywhere in Philadelphia.https://www.phillymagicgardens.org/about-us/mosaic-mural-map/).
When the owners of the lot threatened demolition, the community rallied, purchasing the land and founding a non-profit to protect the site. The Magic Gardens opened to the public in 2008. In addition to being a great spot to simply spend time wandering, they have an indoor gallery and offer special programs, including walking tours, art making, and music evenings. It can get very busy, so try to time your visit off peak. It’s not as much fun when stuffed with people. A few blocks away is locally owned Function Coffee Labs, where you can enjoy your latte next to a Zager mural (1001 S. 10th Street):
One of Philly’s nicknames is the “Mural Capital of the World,” thanks to Philadelphia’s Mural Arts program, the largest public art program in the country. A non-profit, whose mission is to bring communities together – they sponsor 60-100 art projects each year, linking artists with community groups, students, parolees & inmates in the criminal justice system, as well as those dealing with mental health issues. Since they have created over 3,600 murals throughout the city, any visitor to Philadelphia will come across their works, but if you’d like more, you can join one of their guided programs or do a self guided tour: https://map.muralarts.org/tours. One of their most popular is the “Love Letter” series of murals: “Love Letters” – An Artist’s Gift to Philadelphia
to modern and contemporary works:https://www.associationforpublicart.org/tours/. For more information about each artwork, dial 215-339-9000 and enter the piece# from the sign for the Museum Without Walls audio guide.
There are many reasons why Philadelphia is such a great town for public art – the diverse art community and the non-profits that support their work, the world class art museums and art schools, the galleries… and the city itself. In 1959, Philadelphia became the first city in the U.S. to require developers to allocate a percentage of construction cost to public art. Today, developers must spend 1% of their construction budget on art. So, in addition to purchasing work, companies will often commission custom pieces. These can be viewed in courtyards and atriums throughout the city, such as these pieces from Comcast 1 and 2: