In 2015, Professor and Chair of Fine Arts Ken Lum and late artist and faculty member Terry Adkins set up a large outdoor classroom at City Hall and posed a question of everyone who passed through: "What is an appropriate monument for the current city of Philadelphia?" It was the first phase of a citywide art and history project known as Monument Lab.
In 2017, Lum and his team produced a series of interactive, thought-provoking “pop-up monuments,” produced by an inclusive roster of artists.
Twenty works were presented at ten sites across the city, including a multichannel sound installation, an augmented reality scavenger hunt, and salvaged front stoops.
Lum co-curated and co-conceived of Monument Lab with Paul Farber, managing director of the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities. They presaged a movement that gained momentum across America in 2017, and led to a number of high-profile relocations of monuments and statues.
Lum envisions future iterations of Monument Lab, and believes the project can unearth solutions to a better collective future for the city. “The city is a place of many voices,” he says, “which deserve to be heard.”