Monument Lab is a national public art and history project based in Philadelphia. Our goal is to critically engage the monuments we have inherited and unearth the next generation of monuments through stories of social justice and solidarity. We work with artists, activists, municipal agencies, and civic stakeholders on creative approaches to public art, history, and memory.
Through art exhibitions, participatory projects, a national fellows program, and a new website and podcast, Monument Lab is building research and creating conversations around the past, present, and future of monuments.
Founded in 2012, Monument Lab emerged from a series of classroom conversations. In 2015, it grew to include the installation of a pair of outdoor classrooms in the courtyard of Philadelphia’s City Hall through a discovery phase – one, a sculpture envisioned by the late artist Terry Adkins and the other, an adjacent learning lab operated by students who gathered hundreds of public monument proposals. In the continued spirit of collaborative learning, Monument Lab partnered with Mural Arts Philadelphia on a citywide exhibition in 2017 featuring temporary prototype monuments by 20 artists across 10 sites in Philadelphia’s iconic public squares and neighborhood parks, presented together with research labs, where nearly 4,500 creative monument proposals were collected from Philadelphians and visitors. The proposals offer a dataset of public speculation available on OpenDataPhilly. They are shared in a Report to the City and book edited by co-founders Paul M. Farber and Ken Lum titled, Monument Lab: Creative Speculations for Philadelphia (Temple University Press, 2019).
Monument Lab is committed to building on the conversation about monuments and engaging collaborators across the country. We are working on new tools and partnerships in cities such as New Orleans, Newark, Chicago, and Memphis.
Monument Lab is supported by the Knight Foundation, the Sachs Program for Arts Innovation at the University of Pennsylvania, Slought, and the Surdna Foundation.