New Website Allows Tracking of Philadelphia's Murals

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Media Contact:Jessica Reitano | | 215-898-4820April 23, 2003

PHILADELPHIA -- A new Website created by the Cartographic Modeling Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania is being launched to document the beauty and diversity of Philadelphia's 2,500 murals.

In partnership with the Philadelphia Department of Recreations Mural Arts Program, the project is part of Penns Neighborhood Information System that focuses on vacant properties and neighborhood change in Philadelphia. Community development efforts to reclaim vacant land and buildings can be easily traced by studying the growth of murals.

A trash-filled vacant lot may a liability, but it also represents an opportunity for redevelopment, said Marilou ML Wernecke, managing director of the Cartographic Modeling Laboratory. Groups like the Mural Arts Program turn blank walls adjacent to vacant lots into canvases and transform the lots from eyesores to community assets in the process.

The database contains project descriptions, photos and artists profiles and is accessible to the general public. With the query and mapping tools, visitors to the Website can search for murals by theme, artists name, ZIP code or year of completion. Additional information such as background data, photographs, artists biographies and links to other works by the same artists can be retrieved by clicking on a thumbnail of each individual mural.

The Cartographic Modeling Lab is a joint venture of Penns Graduate School of Fine Arts and School of Social Work and specializes in spatial analysis to better understand urban and social problems. The Neighborhood Information System is funded by the William Penn Foundation and the City of Philadelphia. The Website is at