Monument Lab: Creative Speculations for Philadelphia

1/9: The crowd gathers at the late Terry Adkins’ temporary monument in City Hall Courtyard, on the opening day of Monument Lab. Photo by Lisa Boughter.
2/9: The late Terry Adkins’ temporary monument at City Hall Courtyard, the central meeting place for Penn Institute for Urban Research’s Monument Lab. Photo by Lisa Boughter.
3/9: A member of the crowd brainstorms a monument at the Monument Lab “storefront” space in City Hall Courtyard, the day of the project’s opening. Photo by Lisa Boughter.
4/9: A senior from Masterman High School performs at the opening of Monument Lab, at Terry Adkins’ temporary monument in City Hall Courtyard. Photo by Lisa Boughter.
5/9: The crowd at the opening of Monument Lab, at Terry Adkins’ temporary monument in City Hall Courtyard. Photo by Lisa Boughter.
6/9: Monument Lab co-curator Paul Farber speaks at the project’s opening in City Hall Courtyard. Photo by Lisa Boughter.
7/9: Monument Lab co-curator Ken Lum speaks at the project’s opening at City Hall Courtyard. Photo by Lisa Boughter.
8/9: Jane Golden, Director of Mural Arts, speaks at the opening of Monument Lab in the City Hall Courtyard. Photo by Lisa Boughter.
9/9: 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.

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, Paul Farber, and Ken Lum, 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 in the spring of 2015. Adkins’ monument addresses the traumatic wave of Philadelphia school closings that occurred in 2013. A Center City storefront “lab” also located at City Hall, which also opens in the spring of 2015, will serve as project headquarters, where participating artists, curators and Philadelphia citizens will brainstorm and instigate ideas for the appropriate monument for contemporary Philadelphia. This project will precede a planned Philadelphia monuments festival, to take place in 2017.


Additional unrestricted funds are added to each grant for general operating support.

Demetrius Oliver: Canicular, the Center-funded exhibition at the Print Center, has received media attention from the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Huffington Post, ArtDaily, WHYY’s Newsworks, and more.

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.

Brooke Davis Anderson, an expert on self-taught and outsider artists, reflects on how embellished text is often found in these artists’ works.

The Philadelphia Folklore Project will work closely with local Liberian artists to develop “pop-up” public performances that interpret the Liberian immigrant experience through music and song.

Philadelphia Photo Arts Center presents Preface, an exhibition featuring the work of Block Project artist collaborators Hank Willis Thomas, Lisa Fairstein, Wyatt Gallery, Hiroyuki Ito, Will Steacy, and Lori Waselchuk.

Artist, teacher, and writer Odili Donald Odita studies and discusses the breadth and depth of contemporary art of the African diaspora.

In an interactive workshop at the Center, Nina Simon, Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History and author of The Participatory Museum, shared her vision for the future of cultural institutions as personal, dynamic, and collaborative places for visitor engagement.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Fath Davis Ruffins is curator of the division of home and community life at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

Grants & Grantees

The Philadelphia Photo Arts Center is a nonprofit organization devoted to the study, practice, and appreciation of photography in the Philadelphia region.

Grants & Grantees

This creative “place-keeping” project will put Fleisher’s spaces and resources into the hands of Southeast Philadelphia community members, in an effort to make exhibitions more responsive to area residents and to preserve and promote the diverse cultural life of immigrant-rich neighborhoods.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Craig Barton is a professor of architecture and urban design and director of the Design School at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University.

Grants & Grantees

Historic Germantown is a collaborative of 15 historic houses, museums, and landscapes in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia. The sites have worked together for decades, gradually building their collective capacity in both infrastructure and interpretation.