Put a spring in your step with these Mural Arts Tours

'Pride and Progress' by Ann Northrup.
Jack Ramsdale

Philly is hailed as a food city, but it also holds a delicious feast for your eyes as well. 

The City of Brotherly Love has been known as the Mural Capital of The World,” and every year, over 15,000 residents and visitors tour the largest outdoor art gallery on the globe. Typically, there are a few different ways to experience the colorful and unique murals that grace the walls and sides of buildings throughout the city, including taking a tour. Once COVID-19 hit, however, tours had to be put on hold.

Luckily, tours resumed back in the fall. And now with the nice weather, Philadelphians can see how spring has sprung artistically in the city. 

Three brand new tours have joined the line-up for Mural Arts walkable offerings this year. For the 2021 spring season, Philadelphians can join in on the West Philly Inspired Mural Arts Walking Tour, New Bella Vistas Mural Arts Walking Tour, and Spring Into the Arts Mural Arts Walking Tour, all of which will rotate schedules on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Additionally, the Mural Mile Center City Walking Tour will run every Saturday and Sunday morning at 11 a.m. now through May 30.

‘Tree of Knowledge’ by Michael Webb. Jack Ramsdale

Those who join in on the walking tours are able to visit some different and diverse neighborhoods around the city. Each mural showcases one of Mural Arts’ core principles, how “art ignites change” and each showcase from talented artists also follows a different theme. The guide who accompanies guests on the tour then shares the story of the people, places and themes of the mural, along with the 35-year history of Mural Arts Philadelphia and more on its dynamic program areas.

Before you book a walking tour, there are a few safety precautions that should be known prior to attending. Every guest must wear a mask during the tour, and there will be a maximum group amount for each go-around of 10 people. Each tour lasts about an hour and a half, and tickets also must be purchased in advance online at Mural Arts’ official website. 

The standalone Mural Mile departs from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and will run every weekend. Those who partake in the tour will get to explore the creative ins and outs of Center City, getting “up close and personal with murals that tell the intimate and inspiring stories of our city, its leaders, citizens, and amazing public art.” The Mural Mile experience is also said to highlight art tucked in out-of-the-way corners and those unique additions to the cityscape, like ‘Untitled’, by Amy Sherald and ‘Water Gives Life’, by Philadelphia artists Euhri Jones and David McShane.

The three rotating tours have their own distinct experiences as well, and will swap every weekend from now until May 30. All three also have a brand new route, offering Philadelphians a unique experience to explore what Philly has to offer. 

On the West Philly Tour, guests will walk their way through University City, Powelton, Mantua, and Belmont to learn the stories behind the murals, the artists, and how Mural Arts has evolved to impact every neighborhood of Philadelphia. According to the release, many of the murals on this tour feature charismatic figures who overcame incredible challenges to pave the way for future generations. Some highlights include ‘They Met the Challenge’, by Marcus Akinlana, which pays homage to the Tuskegee Airmen, and the ‘Silent Watcher’, by Faith XLVII, a known visual landmark at the gateway to University City.

‘Crystal Snowscape’ by David Guinn. Jack Ramsdale

The new Bella Vista Tour, however, will cover the Bella Vista, South Street, and Hawthorne neighborhoods. The release also states that the murals on this tour exemplify new beginnings and the pioneering spirit and grit that is at the heart of Philadelphia and its residents – past and present. These include ‘Remembering a Forgotten Hero’, by Keir Johnston and Willis “Nomo” Humphrey that celebrates early civil rights activist Octavius V. Catto in his own neighborhood, and David Guinn’s ‘Autumn Revisited’, in the picturesque Palumbo Park, adjacent to the Fleisher Art Memorial.

Lastly, the Spring Into the Arts Mural Arts Walking Tour will put the city’s eclectic mural styles from the Spring Garden neighborhood of Philadelphia center stage. As the official description reads: Here, stunning temporary works are mixed with permanent mural masterpieces, ensuring a surprise around every corner. The graphic and beautiful murals include ‘Folding the Prism’ by Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn and Jim Houser’s ‘Wide Open.’

Those who aren’t in the mood or position for a walking tour can also opt for a Segway tour that features murals throughout the Spring Garden and Northern Liberties neighborhoods. Mural Arts also offers private bookings for social, business, or civic groups of virtually any size and age. In addition to the walking tours, a step-on option is also available for groups with their own vehicle. 

To learn more information about Mural Arts Philadelphia and to book a tour, visit muralarts.org

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