Philadelphia, Penn. – “What is an appropriate monument for the current city of Philadelphia?” This central question motivated Monument Lab: Creative Speculations for Philadelphia, a public art and urban research project centered at City Hall from May 15 – June 7, 2015. Curated by Ken Lum, Paul M. Farber, and A. Will Brown, Monument Lab engaged Philadelphians through art installations, public events, and community mapping. Partners included the City of Philadelphia, Mural Arts Program, PennDesign, Penn Institute for Urban Research, Philadelphia Center for Architecture, and Next City, among others.

Monument Lab drew from local history to encourage speculation on the city’s future. Artists Terry Adkins, Zoe Strauss, Kara Crombie, Alexander Rosenberg, and WE THE WEEDS contributed designs for the city’s five public squares from William Penn’s historic plan. Free dialogues by speakers from a variety of fields were offered at a prototype monument at City Hall designed by artist Terry Adkins, which can be seen in the pictures above.

Researchers invited people to imagine a new monument for the city, providing a form for drawn and/or written monument proposals for specific sites or neighborhoods. These forms were uploaded to a database and displayed on a digital map. They were added to OpenDataPhilly and included in the Center for Architecture’s fall exhibition during the Design Philadelphia Festival. Particular issues and proposals are discussed in articles from the Philadelphia Inquirer and Metro.

In addition, Monument Lab produced a newspaper documenting these activities. More information can be found on social media with #monument_lab.