Jan 8, 2024

Roots and Reimagination: Mural Arts' 40th Anniversary

by: Jane Golden

Dear Friends,


Peace Wall © 1997

As we enter 2024, it’s humbling and exhilarating to mark Mural Arts Philadelphia’s 40th Anniversary. This milestone reflects our enduring commitment to art and community impact. This four-decade journey saw us begin as part of the Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network in Mayor Goode’s administration and evolve into a dynamic public art organization that works collaboratively to transform urban spaces with works of art imbued with hope and dialogue.

This year, Philadelphia will witness historic moments, including the recent inauguration of our 100th mayor, the first woman and first Black woman to hold this esteemed office. In the coming months, our nation will grapple with a major presidential election, making 2024 an even more momentous year for our city and the entire country. During these times of both inspiration and uncertainty, we want public art to continue to play a crucial role in illuminating society’s most entrenched issues, serving as a reason to engage one another in reflection, conversation, and civic action.

With our 40th Anniversary theme, Roots & Reimagination, we embark on an expedition that reflects our rich heritage of community engagement and artistic innovation. We will also nurture a culture of reimagining what public art signifies for the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. We aim to both honor the past and celebrate the people and places that have contributed to making Mural Arts the largest public art program in the country.


Common Threads (restoration) © 2011

Mural Arts significantly influences both local communities and global audiences. Our dynamic outdoor “museum” has established Philadelphia as the “Mural Capital of the World,” drawing widespread acclaim. In the past year alone, we welcomed over 15,000 visitors on tours, a number that will continue to rise in 2024. This outdoor gallery is not just an attraction; it’s a vital part of the city’s civic identity, continually attracting visitors from all around the globe.

With more than 4,300 murals created since 1984 across Philadelphia, murals have transformed our city in ways that have both popular and personal meaning. In our murals, we find reflections of ourselves – our narratives, our pasts, our champions, and our ambitions for a better future. Each mural is like a stake in the ground that says, “We are here!” They tell stories of the people who live here. Every project engages artists and citizens in a profound and intimate dialogue that means the final product resonates with citizens and brims with meaning.

Two generations is a long time to do this work. Much has changed, but some things remain the same. As the essayist Rebecca Solnit says, “We must row forward looking back,” reminding us that we must honor our past and illuminate all that we have learned to move forward toward the future.


Dr. J © 1990

This milestone not only underscores the profound roots that have anchored Mural Arts in the social fabric of Philadelphia but invites a vast, boundless reimagination of what the convergence of art and community can birth.

Through this lens, the murals are not merely paintings on a wall but narratives of past, present, and future, continuously weaving an evolving tapestry of Philadelphia’s collective story. This 40th anniversary beckons us to celebrate Mural Arts’ enduring legacy and the promise of new artistic horizons, reaffirming our Mural Arts’ role as a fulcrum for action – and excellence –a linchpin of Philadelphia’s cultural and community vitality.

This year of celebration provides us the opportunity to imagine the future of public art for the next generation and beyond. So, stay tuned because we have many exciting moments in store. We invite you to take a tour to see the new and vintage murals throughout the city, participate in a paint day, celebrate a mural dedication with us, or celebrate with us at Wall Ball on May 3!


Waterfalls © 1985

Let us gather as a vibrant community united by our shared passion for art and its transformative power. Together, we will create an unforgettable experience that will not only beautify, inspire, and empower but also leave an indelible mark on the cultural landscape of Philadelphia.

With profound excitement and unwavering dedication,

Photo Captions 

Peace Wall © 1997 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Jane Golden and Peter Pagast. 1308 S. 29th Street. Photo by Jack Ramsdale.

Common Threads (restoration) © 2011 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Meg Saligman, Broad & Spring Garden Streets. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Dr. J © 1990 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Kent Twitchell. 1219 Ridge Avenue. Photo by Jack Ramsdale.

Waterfalls © 1985 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Jane Golden, South 48th Street and Chester Avenue. Photo by Mural Arts Staff.



  • Electric Philadelphia © 2020 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Drew Billiau & David Guinn, 6th and Wood Streets. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Abbott Elementary live screening at Bok, March 1, 2023. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Beyond the Paint: Philadelphia’s Mural Arts at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

  • Moon Viewing Platform by Nadia Hironaka, Matthew Suib & Eugene Lew, October 5, 2019. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Crown: Medusa © 2021 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Russell Craig, Municipal Services Building, 1401 JFK Boulevard. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • My Crazy Red Rooster dedication, September 20, 2023. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • THE KELLY CLARKSON SHOW -- Episode 1065 -- Pictured: (l-r) Lily Collins, Josie Totah, Jane Golden, Kelly Clarkson -- (Photo by: Weiss Eubanks/NBCUniversal)

  • The Talented Mr. Trotter in process at The Clay Studio, June 1, 2022. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Climate Justice in Lenapehoking © 2023 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Eurhi Jones, 1800 North American Street. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • The Past Supporting the Future © 2022 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Chenlin Cai, Amy Cheng, Eurhi Jones, The Crane Building, 1000 Vine Street. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Flight © 2022 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, 1228 Spruce Street. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Last updated: Jan 9, 2024

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