June 20, 2014

Penn IUR Awarded Pew Center Grant to Explore the 21st Century Urban Monument


PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – June 20, 2014 – The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage (the Center), has awarded a $72,000 grant to the Penn Institute for Urban Research (Penn IUR) and curators Ken Lum, A. Will Brown and Paul M. Farber for a project titled “Monument Lab: Creative Speculations for Philadelphia.” The project will explore the questions: What is the ideal monument for the current City of Philadelphia and what does a 21st century urban monument look like? 

“Understanding the role of monuments in the 21st century city is a way of understanding the city itself: what it values and how it commemorates and memorializes important people or events,” says Fine Arts Professor and Penn IUR Faculty Fellow Ken Lum, who will be co-curating the project. “We are interested in understanding what monuments look like today, what they say about our collective values, and how they shape—and are shaped by— the 21st century city.”  

The centerpiece of the project 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. Adkins’ monument addresses the traumatic wave of Philadelphia school closings that occurred in 2013. A Center City storefront “lab” located in walking proximity to the monument will serve as project headquarters, where participating artists and curators will brainstorm ideas for “the appropriate monument for Philadelphia in the year 2015.” This project will precede a planned Philadelphia monument festival, to take place in 2016 or 2017.

The project will be co-curated by Penn IUR’s Ken Lum, A. Will Brown, Curatorial Assistant of Contemporary Art at the RISD Museum in Providence, RI, and Paul M. Farber, Postdoctoral Writing Fellow at Haverford College and scholar of American and Urban Studies. The three curators will foster programming and public events, including a collaboration with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, and a series of creative proposals from Philadelphia artists Zoe Strauss, Alexander Rosenberg, Kara Crombie, and the collaborative We The Weeds made up of artist Kaitlin Pomerantz and botanist Zya Levy.  

“We’re so glad to have the opportunity, with the support of The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, to collaborate with these wonderful artists, and bring Terry Adkins’ important 21st century monument to public view,” says Penn IUR Co-Director Genie Birch. “The Monument Lab promises to be exactly the kind of dynamic forum that leads to a deeper understanding of today’s physical and cultural urban landscapes.”

About Penn IUR

The Penn Institute for Urban Research develops knowledge in three critical areas: innovative urban development strategies; building the sustainable and inclusive 21st-century city; and the role of anchor institutions in urban places. It builds essential collaborations among scholars, policy-makers and designers, both on and off the University of Pennsylvania’s campus. Since 2006, the Institute has published 28 titles in its City in the Twenty-First Century series, including Revitalizing America’s Cities and Design After Decline: How America Rebuilds Shrinking Cities.

About The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage

The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, established in 2005, is dedicated to stimulating a vibrant cultural community in the greater Philadelphia region. The Center makes project grants in two areas, Performance and Exhibitions & Public Interpretation, as well as awarding grants to individual artists through Pew Fellowships. The Center also makes Advancement grants, substantial awards to high-performing organizations seeking to make lasting improvements to their programming, audience engagement, and financial health. Each year, Center funding makes possible numerous performing arts events, as well as history and visual arts exhibitions and other public programs for audiences in Philadelphia and its surrounding counties. The Center is also a hub for research and knowledge-sharing on issues critical to cultural practice.



Media Contact:

Deborah Lang
Communications Director

Bring our latest initiatives, publications and events to your inbox.