Monument Lab: Creative Speculations for Philadelphia

1/2: Terry Adkins, Blanche Bruce, and the Lone Wolf Recital Corps perform The Last Trumpet as part of the Performa Biennial 2013. Photo courtesy of the Estate of Terry Adkins and Salon 94, New York.
2/2: Philadelphia City Hall courtyard, 2014. Photo courtesy of Paul Farber.

This project will pose the question: What does a 21st-century urban monument look like? The centerpiece of this exploration, overseen by curators A. Will Brown, Ken Lum, and Paul Farber, will be a temporary monument designed by the late, award-winning artist and University of Pennsylvania professor Terry Adkins, to be installed in City Hall’s central courtyard. Adkins’ monument addresses the traumatic wave of Philadelphia school closings that occurred in 2013. A Center City storefront “lab” located in walking proximity to the monument will serve as project headquarters, where participating artists and curators will brainstorm and instigate ideas for “the appropriate monument for Philadelphia in the year 2014.” This project will precede a planned Philadelphia monument festival, to take place in 2016 or 2017.

The Philadelphia Folklore Project trained a small group of community participants to document their history and folklore, a process adapted to develop a new approach to exhibitions.

The Philadelphia Ceili Group is an educational organization with an interest in Irish culture, founded in 1958 to preserve traditional ceili and set dancing.

The first comprehensive survey of Paul Evans’ work will document the artist’s critical role in the mid-century American studio furniture movement.

Jumatatu Poe developed The Flight Attendants, a satirical commentary on the service industry, during summer workshops with members of his company, idiosynCrazy productions.

The Preservation Alliance promotes the importance and appropriate use of historic buildings and landscapes in the Philadelphia region.

Morbid Anatomy creative director Joanna Ebenstein and Evan Michelson of Obscura Antiques will curate an exclusive collection of their favorite Wagner specimens in an illustrated presentation.


In 1989 the Center awarded grants to 13 music organizations in the greater Philadelphia region, including the Painted Bride Art Center and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia.


Mark Shetabi is a visual artist and a 2002 Pew Fellow.

Stefan Sagmeister’s The Happy Show, on view at the Institute of Contemporary Art in the spring and summer of 2012, was featured in the New York Times.

Mural Arts’s A Love Letter for You was featured in the Guardian in 2011 as part of a collection of photos of the ten best street art works.

The Morris Arboretum is home to more than 12,000 labeled plants of approximately 2,500 types, several historic buildings, and a collection of historic and contemporary sculpture.

On May 3, 2010, two of contemporary visual arts’ most distinguished figures visited the Center for a compelling conversation addressing the practice of painting, the making of painting exhibitions, and the relationship between the two.

The Mann Center for the Performing Arts recently announced plans for the Philadelphia Freedom Festival to honor early, Philadelphia-based civil rights activist, Octavius Catto.


Mark Allen is founder and executive director of Machine Project, a multidisciplinary neighborhood arts collaborative in Los Angeles.

As part of its ancillary programming, Vox Populi will host a Riot Grrrl burlesque show with the Dead Flowers Burlesque Troupe.

Paola Antonelli, senior curator of the architecture and design department at the Museum of Modern Art, is one of the world’s foremost experts on design.

Pianist Marilyn Nonken is known for performances that explore transcendent virtuosity and extremes of musical expression.


Linda Cordell is a visual artist and a 2003 Pew Fellow.

Located in Elkins Park, Beth Sholom is the only synagogue ever designed by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Kathleen McLean, principal of Independent Exhibitions, recently co-facilitated the Center’s project, No Idea Is Too Ridiculous, with Performa curator Mark Beasley.

In 2013, the Center funded 52 projects, welcomed 13 new Pew Fellows, and brought to Philadelphia exemplary cultural practitioners from around the world for roundtable discussions and lectures.

The National Constitution Center planned a new hybrid performance/exhibition experience in conjunction with Fighting for Democracy, a traveling exhibition about World War II.


Arlene Shuler is president and CEO of New York City Center. A former dancer with the Joffrey Ballet, Shuler has also worked at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

The next phase of a multi-part conversation about historic preservation, first initiated in 2011, Gray Area 3 will convene community members around the “adaptive re-use” of two vacant Philadelphia buildings of historic, cultural, or architectural significance.

Murphy makes up one half of the artist duo Megawords, along with Anthony Smyrski. Megawords is well known throughout Philadelphia for installations that are equal parts gathering space, artist studio, and storefront.


Peter Eleey is the curator and associate director of exhibitions and programs of MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, NY.