May 3

A Look At Mural Arts Tours and Merchandise: Spring 2022

by: Ilse García Romero

Photo by Steve Weinik.

Mural Arts’ Director of Tours and Merchandise Ellen Soloff has recently celebrated eight years with the organization! I spoke to her in honor of her anniversary to learn a little more about her time at Mural Arts.

Ellen has worked in various non-profit organizations in Philadelphia, where she has been responsible for planning special events, developing brand marketing, and managing tourism sales. In 2014, Mural Arts was looking for someone with fresh ideas to help its tour program be more successful and attract more visitors. “Once I started, we began to purposefully market our tours as a City art attraction to residents and visitors alike,” says Ellen. The highlight of her Mural Arts career has been the unique interactions and connections with the people associated with the artwork.

Mural Arts currently has three new Spring tour routes that highlight the murals in each of the neighborhoods where the tours are taking place and many different art styles of murals are represented. On each tour, guests will learn about the history of the neighborhood as well as information about Mural Arts’ program areas, history, and, of course, the stories behind each work of art.

As Memorial Day approaches and Summer unofficially begins, Ellen suspects tours will become a popular attraction for visitors and residents alike. “People feel safer outdoors and enjoy being out and about, particularly as the weather is getting nicer,” says Ellen. “I think the fact that we have so many walking tour options has helped and will continue to do so for our program, from a tourism perspective.”

One trend that Ellen has noticed is that our trolley tours have become less popular over the years and that visitors seem to be looking for neighborhood walking tours instead. Particularly since the pandemic, walking tours have become the primary way that people experience Mural Arts tours, with Ellen calling them “a great way to see the murals up close and true to their scale.” In order to adapt to our changing world, the Tours department also created two very successful virtual tours during the pandemic, which has helped us to expand our tour audience across the country.

Folding the Prism by Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Aside from managing all of Mural Arts iconic tours, Ellen also keeps the Mural Arts Shop stocked with plenty of items for art fans to purchase. She explains, “We have a variety of cool branded merchandise as well as items that highlight some relatively newer murals including Philly Rising and We Are Universal.  However, our newest item, which is in production right now, is a beautiful, full-color umbrella featuring the artwork of Folding the Prism at 12th & Spring Garden Streets – they will be available at Wall Ball and on our website in June.”

So, there you have it folks! There are myriad wonderful Mural Arts tours and merchandise items for everyone to enjoy this Spring. Don’t forget to check out our Tours page to reserve your spot!

If you are visiting Philadelphia and are not familiar with the city’s history and culture, Ellen recommends the Center City Mural Mile tour as a great introduction to Mural Arts’ work.  This was our original tour and it is offered every weekend – Saturdays at 11 am and Sundays at 2 pm. See you out there!

Last updated: May 3, 2022

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