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Mural Arts Program and Accessibility in the City of Brotherly Love

We are incredibly lucky to have a rising arts hub right in our backyard. Philadelphia has world renowned museums and galleries, but it hasn’t kept its art locked inside, the City of Brotherly Love is FULL of art, inside and outside.

It seems no matter where you turn, there are small and large murals poking out of cracks and stretching up buildings filling the city with color and vibrancy. Murals go beyond beautifying the surfaces of buildings, they allow art to be as accessible as possible. Now, rather than having to travel across town to a museum or gallery, people can walk out their door and around the block and will likely bump into a public art mural.

As cited in Visit Philadelphia, a program that began in 1984 to help eradicate graffiti has blossomed to over 3,600 murals all across the city. Here, in the City of Brotherly Love, professional artists and local young Philadelphians stand elbow to elbow creating these massive works of art. Murals offer an accessibility to the city that traditional art venues have a harder time achieving.

Migrant Imaginary © 2019 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Layqa Nuna Yawar & Ricardo Cabret, 1902 South 4th Street. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Now you might be asking, what is accessibility? Essentially, accessibility in the arts means providing equal opportunity for all to access and view art. This includes removing language, physical, and social barriers which previously would have prevented an individual from having access to art. Museums around the world are working to achieve this by making immersive, hands on experiences and increasing the diversity and capability of their signage and audio tours. What about murals? Well, murals often don’t come with a sign, they aren’t bound in a museum, and they are dispersed around our communities at ground level, immediately eliminating many of the accessibility problems traditional venues face.

Why is accessible art important to the cultural development of Philadelphia? Traditional museum settings could be intimidating and can feel limiting or potentially restrictive to those who are unfamiliar with them or with the arts. Murals take all of the pressure and intimidation out of viewing art. They allow us all to hold casual conversations and engage daily with art as it injects our daily commutes. Whether you are looking for it or not, the accessibility of murals makes even non-art lovers aware of its presence. We have such a deep love for galleries and art museums, for their preservation of world treasures, and their ability to be city cultural institutions and our passion for the arts fully embraces the Mural Arts Program.

What started as a way to eliminate graffiti, has turned into a city wide beautification movement, that is making even non-art lovers take notice.

Medallions of Hope by Hagopian Arts. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Have you seen the murals in Philadelphia? If so, what is your favorite? If you have not, check out the links below which provide more information and maps so you can go on your own walking tour!


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