MWW Featured in National Associated Press Story

MWW Featured in National Associated Press Story

The Associated Press recently published an in-depth feature on Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO, and our program has been gaining national attention ever since. The AP story – Philly’s New ‘Museum’ Is Free, Outdoors, Open 24-7 – has already appeared in The Seattle Times,, Yahoo! News,, The Huffington Post,, Stamford Advocate, The Canadian Press, Marin Independent Journal, The Philadelphia Tribune, METRO, Greenwich Time, Desert News, The Republic, The Pioneer Press, and, among others.

Museum Without Walls is a program of the Association for Public Art

Philly’s New ‘Museum’ Is Free, Outdoors, Open 24-7

By Joann Loviglio
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA – Ever walk by a statue and wonder, “What made this guy so important?” or pass by a modern sculpture in a park and think, “What on earth is that supposed to be?”

Now, in Philadelphia, there’s an app for that. And similar apps exist for art and landmarks in other cities ranging from Seattle to New York.

You get a lot of cool information in just a couple of minutes — Philadelphia city resident, Ann Sebatino

In Philadelphia, the month-old “Museum Without Walls” audio program was created to be used like a customizable museum that’s free and never closes. Its self-guided audio tours are available 24-7 in several different formats: You can call phone numbers listed with each sculpture, use a free smart phone app, download the audio to an MP3 player, or scan a special bar code (known as a QR or quick response code) on the free “Museum Without Walls” map at locations around the city.

The project’s first phase includes 51 outdoor sculptures at 35 stops along a three-mile stretch of the bustling Benjamin Franklin Parkway from downtown to leafy Fairmount Park, a route popular with bicyclists, runners and walkers.

Bronze sculpture The Thinker by artist Auguste Rodin
August Rodin’s “The Thinker” is part of the Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO program. Photo Penny Balkin Bach © 2008 for the Association for Public Art

The first stop is Robert Indiana’s iconic “LOVE” sculpture. Others along the way include Auguste Rodin’s “The Thinker” and Emmanuel Fremiet’s “Joan of Arc,” and works by Henry Moore, Mark di Suvero, Alexander Calder, and Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

Three- to-five minute segments voiced by people connected to the works — historians, curators, the artist himself (they’re all men so far) or a living relative — explain each piece and give context. On the website, visitors can upload their own pictures and add their own thoughts about the sculptures.

Indiana, for example, explains how his early years as a newspaper copy boy sparked his interest in the typography that became a recurring theme in his work. In each case, the segments sound like a conversation instead of a lecture.

City resident Ann Sebatino plugged into the Indiana podcast during her lunch hour and gave it high marks: “You get a lot of cool information in just a couple of minutes.”

Meanwhile, several museums around the country are using the Philadelphia program as a model.

“Our main goal was to make the content really great,” said Penny Balkin Bach of the Fairmount Park Art Association, a 128-year-old nonprofit that acquires, interprets and maintains more than 200 works of art citywide. “Technology is always changing … the important thing is what you find after you’ve dialed the number.”

Museum Without Walls, which was funded by grants, is geared both toward tourists as well as locals who have always wondered about particular works of art — or barely noticed them at all. Another 35 sculptures may be added next year if grant funding comes through, Bach said.

Meanwhile, several museums around the country are using the Philadelphia program as a model.

“The excellent quality of the recordings and innovative use of multiple media in the Museum Without Walls make it a valuable model to learn from,” said Kyrie Thompson Kellett of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

The Getty Museum in Los Angeles offers similar technology to visitors of its outdoor sculpture garden, and Seattle has a virtual tour of historic landmarks, but perhaps the largest such program is in New York City.

After the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, a group of architects and planners began an endeavor to document the art and architecture of lower Manhattan. That developed into a nonprofit called CultureNOW, which has since created five different maps, a website and a $1.99 iPhone app that includes 200 podcasts narrated by the city’s movers and shakers.

Abby Suckle, an architect and the president of CultureNOW, calls the survey the most comprehensive to date of New York’s cultural landscape, including 2,000 public art works, plus thousands more museums, galleries, historic buildings, theaters and parks.

“All of it is online and all of it is documented,” Suckle said, from art in public schools and subways to grand public spaces like Rockefeller Center and the United Nations.

Related Artworks




by Robert Indiana (1928 - 2018)

15th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard

For the bicentennial celebration in 1976, artist Robert Indiana lent the city a large aluminum sculpture of his “love” image. Indiana first produced this design as a painting in 1964.


The Thinker

(1902-04, cast 1919)

by Auguste Rodin (1840 - 1917)

Rodin Museum entrance and walk, Benjamin Franklin Parkway between 21st and 22nd Streets

Philadelphia’s version of this iconic artwork is a cast of the 1902–1904 sculpture. It was installed for the opening of the Rodin Museum in 1929, in front of a façade that replicates the one at Meudon where artist Auguste Rodin’s grave is located.


Joan of Arc


by Emmanuel Frémiet (1824 – 1910)

Kelly Drive at 25th Street

A memorial to the French heroine, the French community in Philadelphia sought the aid of the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art) to commemorate their centennial.

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