Philadelphia is home to an unparalleled collection of public art in every medium including sculptures, paintings, memorials, photographs, glass art, kinetic works, and murals throughout all areas of the city. Over 650 of these artworks were commissioned through the City’s Percent for Art Programs. This year, we’re celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Philadelphia’s Percent for Art Programs, the first in the nation.

What is Percent for Art?

In 1959, Philadelphia pioneered the Percent for Art model requiring the inclusion of site-specific public art in new construction or major renovation projects in the amount of one percent of the total budget. The charge of the Percent for Art Programs is to commission outstanding and enduring artworks, which respond specifically to public spaces and communities. This groundbreaking model has been replicated in cities across the country, reflecting our collective desire to experience visual art as a component of the built environment.

Both the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority’s (PRA) and the City Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy’s (OACCE) Percent for Art Programs were established in 1959 – the PRA’s began in March and the City’s in December. The PRA’s Percent for Art requirement mandated that at least one percent of the building construction costs be allocated to the commissioning of original site-specific public art. Similarly, the City’s Percent for Art ordinance required that one percent of the total dollar amount of any City-funded construction project be devoted to original site-specific public art.

How we’re celebrating the 60th Anniversary

The activities celebrating the 60th Anniversary begin with the Percent for Art 60, a selection of 60 public artworks commissioned through the public art program that illustrate the variety of public art located in neighborhoods throughout the city as well as the evolution of artist responses to these opportunities over the last sixty years. The Percent for Art 60 will be highlighted through anniversary activities happening this year.

  • Percent for Art 60 Interactive Map – The Percent for Art 60 will be highlighted in a new online map. Visit the interactive map to learn more about the artist, location, and details about each artwork. The map can be used for self-guided tours and to find the Percent for Art 60 in your neighborhood. Map launch-date to be announced.
  • #PercentForArt60 Photo Contest and Scavenger Hunt – Philadelphians and visitors are invited to snap and share their images of the #PercentForArt60 to join in the 60th Anniversary celebration. Participants can use the online map to find the #PercentForArt60 throughout the city. Share your images on social media using #PercentForArt60 to be part of the fun!
  • New Percent for Art Dedications – The public artworks commissioned through OACCE’s and PRA’s Percent for Art Programs that are unveiled and dedicated this year will be highlighted as part of the 60th Anniversary.
  • 60th Anniversary Exhibition – Planned for this fall, an exhibition will feature a visual timeline of Philadelphia’s Percent for Art programs over the past 60 years. The multi-media exhibit will include video, proposal documents and models, providing visitors with highlights in the history and development of these groundbreaking programs.
  • 60th Anniversary Reception & Panel Discussion – The closing reception of the 60th Anniversary exhibition will feature a panel discussion and serve as the key event of the Percent for Art 60th Anniversary. The panel discussion will celebrate the role of public art, discuss how it has changed in the past 60 years and imagine how it can continue to evolve in the future.

Planned events include:

  • Percent for Art 60 New Addition | July 31, 11:00 a.m. | Smith Playground, 2100 S. 24th Street
  • Percent for Art 60 Trivia at Commerce Square | August 1 – October 31 | Commerce Square, 2005 Market Street
  • Percent for Art at 60 Exhibition | September 19 – November 7 | Center for Architecture & Design, 1218 Arch Street
  • Percent for Art 60 Panel Discussion | November 7, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. | Center for Architecture & Design, 1218 Arch Street