Celebrating Women and Public Art in Philadelphia

2020 is a milestone year for women’s rights in the United States. It’s the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted select* American women the right to vote. In collaboration with Vision 2020’s Women 100: A National Celebration of American Women, the Association for Public Art (aPA) is honoring this historic occasion by highlighting a number of important public artworks in Philadelphia created by women artists.

Collage of many of the public artworks in Philadelphia by women artists
Just a taste of the many public artworks in Philadelphia created by women artists.

The Women and Public Art theme on our map includes more than 40 sculptures and installations in Philadelphia by women artists, explorable as map, gallery, or list views. While aPA played a special role in the realization of a number of these artworks, the full selection includes works that were commissioned or initiated by a variety of entities. Other themes on our interactive map include the “African American Theme,” highlighting public artworks created by African American artists or that illustrate the African American experience; “The Animal Kingdom Theme,” which includes sculptures of species ranging from slithering snakes to ferocious lions; and “The Calder Family (of Artists) Theme,” which reflects Philadelphia’s historic ties to three generations of artists in the Calder Family and their celebrated public artworks, among others.

Click the map to see a selection of over 40 public artworks in Philadelphia by women artists.

The history of women’s rights and representation in the U.S. is long and complicated, and parallels can be found in public art. Historically speaking, fewer public art commissions were awarded to women artists and minorities compared to white male artists. According to aPA’s Executive Director and Chief Curator Penny Balkin Bach in an interview for The Philadelphia Inquirer, “When you look at the scale and importance of the commissions, objectively speaking, those tended to go to men,” she said. “The commissions were awarded by men. The history of public art is not that much different than the history of women’s place in America.”

*In November 1920, more than 8 million women voted in elections for the first time in the United States. In 1965, the Voting Rights Act was signed into law, which aimed to overcome legal barriers that prevented mostly African Americans from exercising their right to vote. Source
For the list of artworks featured in the photo grid on this page, click here.

Related Artworks


Land Buoy


by Jody Pinto (b. 1942)

Washington Avenue Pier, formerly Pier 53, Washington and Delaware Avenues

A “mast-like” spire ascends into the sky with a 16-foot spiral staircase wrapping around its base. Visitors can climb the stairs to a platform that offers views up and down the Delaware River.


Mother and Child (or See the Moon)


by Evelyn Keyser (1923 - 2011)

District Health Center #2, Broad and Morris Streets

A Philadelphia artist known for her wooden sculptures of the human form, Evelyn Keyser’s wood carving of a mother and child won her this commission for a new health center in South Philadelphia in the 1960s.


Ile Ife Park


by Lily Yeh (1941 - )

Germantown Avenue and N 10th Street

Ile Ife Park is the founding project of The Village of Arts and Humanities in North Philadelphia, made possible through the collaboration of choreographer Arthur Hall and artist Lily Yeh.


Rock Form (Porthcurno)


by Barbara Hepworth (1903 - 1975)

Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 17th Street

One of the 20th century’s most eminent sculptors, Dame Barbara Hepworth created abstract works influenced by natural shapes.




by Janet Echelman (1966-)

Dilworth Park, One South 15th Street, Operating April-October

Janet Echelman’s Pulse traces in the surface of the fountain the paths of the subway and trolley lines that converge beneath Dilworth Park at City Hall.


Face Fragment


by Arlene Love (1930 - )

Monell Chemical Senses Center, University City Science Center, 3500 Market Street

Arlene Love’s giant gilded nose and mouth with the rest of the face appearing to have broken away at the Monell Chemical Senses Center.

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