Philadelphia is home to the oldest public Holocaust monument in the United States. Commissioned in the 1950s by Holocaust survivors and other Jewish community members, the Monument was erected at the head of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in 1964, at the intersection of 16th and Arch streets. The site around the Monument was redesigned in 2018 to increase public engagement and education. Several new educational installations and artifacts were added to the site and today the Memorial Plaza welcomes over 10,000 visitors each year.
We are now embarking on a roughly 18-month journey to further activate the Memorial Plaza with a new artwork that will be installed on the wall of the Verizon building at the north end of the Plaza – serving as a backdrop for the entire site and complementing the original Monument and interpretive features. Once completed, it will be the nation’s first large scale, publicly commissioned mural dedicated to Holocaust remembrance and education in a public park.
We are now more than 70 years removed from the tragedies of the Holocaust, and the general public is losing a connection to this history. This is evident both in how little most people know about the Holocaust and how rapidly antisemitism is rising in our nation.
Simultaneously, we are at a pivotal time when the community of Holocaust Survivors can no longer lead the work of educating future generations. How do we make sure that the universal lessons of the Holocaust do not disappear from our public conscience? How can we bring the public together to fight antisemitism and bigotry with a renewed commitment and energy?
Just a few generations ago, the Survivor community from the Philadelphia area commissioned the Six Million Jewish Martyrs Monument to preserve the memory of those who did not survive. The Monument was intentionally situated along Philadelphia’s major civic and cultural corridor, serving as a powerful and permanent visual reminder of the past. Fifty years later, the Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation redesigned the Memorial to advance its purpose through the addition of a contemplative landscape and educational features.
The new artwork will align with the Memorial Plaza’s strong message of resilience, hope and tolerance. It will further activate the site with visual storytelling that extends the way people can engage with the space, building on both the landmark Monument and the site’s other educational features. Finally, the artwork will bring visual closure, completeness and depth by occupying the wall that provides a visual backdrop for the space.
What will the mural be about?
Instead of telling interested artists what the artwork should be exactly about, we have created a thoughtful process that welcomes creative ideas from the artists, subject matter experts, and the broader public. We recognize the sensitive and complex nature of the topic and so we have allotted dedicated time for the artist to engage with the stakeholders and conduct independent research. For more information on our project goals, please see the RFQ.
How will the mural complement the Monument and other educational features at the Memorial Plaza?
The Monument to Six Million Jewish Martyrs is the centerpiece of the Horwitz Wasserman Holocaust Memorial Plaza. As the first monument to Jewish victims in the country, the Monument will remain the focal point of the site. The artwork will create a unique opportunity to build on what already exists and create a new way for people to engage with the space. With its additional visual storytelling, the artwork will also draw visitors into the space. The artwork will provide a backdrop for the Plaza and all of its features.
How do I get involved?
We are glad you want to get involved with the mural project! There are several ways to get involved:
I am an artist- am I eligible to apply?
We are open to hearing from any artist who meets the qualifications outlined in the RFQ.
The application process and requirements are published in our RFQ.
How does the artist and the final design get selected?
The Steering Committee will identify a short list of artists, conduct interviews, and make a recommendation on the final artist to PHRF’s board and MAP.
The artist will be responsible for creating the design. The design process will be informed by stakeholder meetings where the broader community will be able to share their input, as well as any additional research and engagement the artist would like to conduct. The design will be reviewed by the Steering Committee and approved by PHRF’s board, MAP and relevant public agencies. We hope our partners, supporters, and interested members of the public participate in these meetings to have their voices heard.
Questions? Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org