Home to more than 4,000 murals, Philadelphia is known as the “Mural Capital of the World.” What started as an anti-graffiti program in 1984, Mural Arts Philadelphia is now the nation’s largest public art program and has grown into an international leader. The program has activated some of Philadelphia’s most unassuming locations with community-based public art.
Mural Arts Philadelphia is also part of a larger campaign by the city to repurpose public spaces and create positive dialogue in communities. Residents are often involved in the development of Philadelphia murals. Visitors can see these colorful creations on guided and self-guided tours provided by Mural Arts.
Mural Arts Philadelphia commissions up to 100 public art projects every year. In 2023, artists painted new murals in various Philadelphia neighborhoods including Kensington, Northern Liberties, and the Gayborhood. Among these new murals are “Finally on 13th,” honoring the city’s rich Ballroom culture. “Literacy Loop” is a 10,000 square foot ground mural at Farrell Elementary School designed to increase literacy skills through playful learning.
Murals Close to the Pennsylvania Convention Center
In Philadelphia for a convention? You don’t need to travel far to get your art fix. Some of Philadelphia’s most iconic murals can be found around the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Center City. “The Past Supporting the Future” features small paper cranes transforming into a large living crane taking flight. The mural represents Philadelphia’s Chinatown and its growth and future. While, “Water Gives Life” depicts wildflowers representing the connection between Philadelphia’s rivers and local flora.
If there’s one thing Philadelphians are passionate about, it’s their sports teams. Therefore, murals honoring the boldest Philadelphia legends can be found throughout the city. These murals include depictions of the World Series winning Phillies teams, the 2018 Eagles, and legacy Sixers like Dr. J and Allen Iverson.
Murals Highlighting Diversity
Many of the city’s murals are dedicated to Philadelphia’s diverse citizens. Including “Colorful Legacy,” a vibrant mural in West Philadelphia that raises awareness of the challenges that men and boys of color face. While “Pride and Progress” depicts a gay pride festival on the William Way LGBT Community Center in Center City.
Many of Philadelphia’s most prominent and influential citizens have also been honored with murals. In Center City, a mural honors Edmund Bacon, the city planner responsible for LOVE Park and protecting historical homes. “The Father of Modern Philadelphia” depicts Bacon gazing down at the streets and passersby below. In North Philadelphia, “Why We Love Coltrane” represents musician John Coltrane and his impact on Philadelphia’s jazz music scene. This is the second mural created in his memory.