Jane Golden

Founder, Executive Director

Contact Info


(215) 685-0760

Jane Golden, Executive Director, has been the driving force of Mural Arts Philadelphia (Mural Arts), overseeing its growth from a small city agency into the nation’s largest public art program and a model for community development and restorative justice across the country and around the globe. Under Golden’s direction, Mural Arts has created over 4,000 works of public art through innovative collaborations with community-based organizations, city agencies, nonprofit organizations, schools, the private sector, and philanthropies.

Initially hired as a young artist by former Mayor Wilson Goode to help combat the graffiti crisis plaguing the city, Golden reached out to graffiti writers to help turn their destructive energies into creative ones. In the process, she recognized the raw artistic talent among the graffiti writers, and she provided them with fresh opportunities to channel their creativity and ideas into mural-making. The murals themselves transformed city neighborhoods which had long suffered from years of neglect and hardship. In 1996, Mural Arts was reorganized under the City of Philadelphia Department of Recreation, and Golden was put in place as its director. At this time, she established the Philadelphia Mural Arts Advocates, a nonprofit organized to raise funds and provide support to the program.

In the decades since, Golden has connected the process of muralism to a multitude of community and public outcomes. In partnership with a range of city agencies, she has developed groundbreaking and rigorous art education, restorative justice, and behavioral health programs that serve young people, youth and adult offenders at area prisons and detention centers, and individuals suffering from trauma, mental illness, and addiction, respectively. These programs have made it possible for thousands to experience and witness the power of art to connect young people to their communities and to future opportunities, to break the cycle of crime and violence, and to bring about healing in individuals and communities.

In addition to developing innovative programs, Golden has overseen a series of increasingly complex, ambitious, and award-winning public art projects, including How Philly Moves, an 85,000-square-foot mural at the Philadelphia International Airport; Light Drift, an interactive light project in and along the Schuylkill River, created by a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; A Love Letter for You, a narrative series of 50 text-based images visible from the Market-Frankford El, developed by Stephen Powers; and Philly Painting, a collaboration with Dutch artists Dre Urhahn and Jeroen Koolhaas, which sought to catalyze economic development by engaging community members and businesses in the transformation of 60 buildings along a struggling commercial corridor. Open Source, a citywide public art exhibition in 2015, was Mural Arts’ largest undertaking yet, as Golden and staff collaborated with curator Pedro Alonzo to bring 13 trailblazing artists to Philadelphia for groundbreaking projects that illuminated the city’s diverse public identity. In 2017, Golden oversaw the production of Monument Lab, a public art and history project from curators Paul M. Farber and Ken Lum that started a citywide conversation about history, memory, and our collective future; 20+ dynamic contemporary artists, working in Philadelphia and around the world, created temporary monuments around the city for a nine-week-long exhibition that engaged over 100,000 people.

Sought after nationally and internationally as an expert on urban transformation through art, Golden has received numerous awards for her work, including the Philadelphia Award, the Hepburn Medal from the Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center at Bryn Mawr College, the Visionary Woman Award from Moore College of Art, the 2012 Governor’s Award for Innovation in the Arts, a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania Award from former Governor Edward G. Rendell, the Adela Dwyer/St. Thomas Peace Award from Villanova University, LaSalle University’s Alumni Association’s Signum Fidei Medal, an Eisenhower Fellowships Award, Philadelphia Magazine’s Trailblazer Award, the Philadelphia Public Relations Association’s 2016 Gold Medal Award, and a Woman of Distinction Award from the Philadelphia Business Journal. In 2018, she received the Anne d’Harnoncourt Award for Artistic Excellence from the Arts + Business Council of Greater Philadelphia, and the Dare to Understand Award from the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia. She has also co-authored two books about the murals in Philadelphia and co-edited a third, Mural Arts @ 30 (Temple University Press, 2014), published on the occasion of Mural Arts’ 30th anniversary. Golden is referenced in publications around the world, and is an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania. She holds a Master of Fine Arts from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, and degrees in Fine Arts and Political Science from Stanford University. In addition, Golden has received honorary PhDs from Swarthmore College, Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, Widener University, Arcadia University, LaSalle College, Haverford College, and most recently, Rosemont College, Villanova University, St. Joseph’s University, and Drexel University.

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Last updated: May 15, 2018