The City of Philadelphia’s public art collection is one of the oldest and largest in the United States and reflects Philadelphia’s enduring commitment to the arts. With works of all styles, reflecting hundreds of unique stories in every neighborhood, the collection showcases Philadelphia’s rich history and represents its diverse communities.

Public art is a vital part of the city’s identity and is cherished by its residents and visitors, especially, the iconic sculptures that fill Center City such as the LOVE sculpture, Clothespin, and “Your Move” (game pieces).

It is with both gratitude and sadness that the City of Philadelphia shares the news of the deaccession (permanent removal from the City’s public art collection) of the public art installation “Your Move” from Thomas Paine Plaza due to upcoming renovations to its site, the artwork’s poor condition, and the ongoing expensive costs associated with its maintenance.

We express our gratitude for the great impact that “Your Move” has had on our community, we understand and share the feelings of loss and sadness experienced by those who have connected deeply with this cherished public art installation. Its removal will certainly create a void for many who appreciate its beauty and significance to Philadelphia and Center City.

Background on “Your Move”

“Your Move” is a City-owned public art installation that was commissioned in 1996 through the City’s Percent for Art Program, which requires that major City-funded renovation or construction projects designate one percent of the overall budget to site-specific public art.

Created by Daniel Martinez, Renee Petropoulis, and Roger White, the installation consists of game pieces from the board games Chess, Sorry, Parcheesi, Monopoly, Bingo, Dominoes, and Checkers. The artists behind “Your Move” created the game pieces as a reflection of our life journeys, from child’s play to adult obligation. It also was a symbol of human interaction through playing games.

The original outdoor installation included 45 oversized game pieces constructed mostly out of painted fiberglass, painted steel, and concrete and was commissioned for the cost of $195,000 as part of renovations to the Municipal Services Building. “Your Move” was fitting for a concrete plaza, which was a typical public space design in the ‘90s. Currently, 34 of the 45 pieces remain on site.

Removing “Your Move”

With a heavy heart, the City’s Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy (OACCE) sent a letter to the artists in July 2022 notifying them of the City’s intent to permanently remove from the City’s public art collection “Your Move” due to the multiple complications posed by the artwork’s construction and location.

Since the installation of “Your Move,” a professional conditions assessment found that the materials used in the artwork were not durable enough to withstand the wear and tear of its high-traffic site, including skateboarding, frequent interactions with the public, and exposure to rain and sunlight. “Your Move” has required extensive, exhaustive, and expensive restoration and conservation efforts to address issues of deterioration, graffiti, rusting, and other forms of damage. The rust and corrosion could also pose safety issues to those who interact with the artwork.

Soon, Thomas Paine Plaza will undergo renovations to make it similar to its sister parks, Dilworth Plaza and LOVE Park. The future renovations will include green space and seating, making it more welcoming to public gatherings. Before renovations can begin, however, the Plaza requires immediate repairs to its foundation. These repairs necessitate the immediate removal of “Your Move” from the Plaza.

After thoughtful consideration, the City has decided that due to the artwork’s condition as well as ongoing maintenance costs that go beyond any other artwork in the City’s collection—“Your Move” cannot be reinstalled at the Plaza. The Philadelphia Art Commission approved the removal and disposal of “Your Move” on May 10, 2023.

Following the City’s policy, we contacted the “Your Move” artists to make them aware of the City’s desire to remove the artwork. The City gave the artists the option to take possession of the artwork, at their cost, following its removal from the Plaza. The artists did not want to repossess “Your Move,” therefore, were notified that the game pieces will be disposed of.

What’s next?

Next steps

  • The removal of the “Your Move” game pieces will begin on May 26, 2023 in preparation for demolition work to begin at Thomas Paine Plaza.
  • The artwork will be temporarily stored at a secure facility.
  •  OACCE will work with the Department of Public Property (DPP) to dispose of the artwork in accordance with the City’s Procurement process.
  • The city has not yet set a timeline for the redesign and renovation of Thomas Paine Plaza.

Looking ahead

  • After its foundation is repaired, Thomas Paine Plaza will be redesigned. The City’s Department of Public Property will contract for the redesign of the Plaza.
  • Renovations to the Plaza will include the addition of green space and seating areas, making the Plaza more welcoming and comfortable for public gatherings.
  • The renovation of Thomas Paine Plaza will be a City-funded renovation project and will trigger the Percent for Art Ordinance which means a portion of the construction budget will be used to commission a new, durable, public artwork that is site-specific to the Plaza’s new design, layout, and landscape.

As we say goodbye to “Your Move,” we welcome everyone to share pictures, videos, testimonials, and memories with us via email (arts@phila.gov) or across all OACCE social media platforms including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.