Travel to and around Philly

Planes, trains, and automobiles will carry you to the City of Brotherly Love. The airport (PHL) and Amtrak’s 30th Street Station (also PHL) are connected to Center City by SEPTA’s Regional Rail lines, with a stop just across the street from the Loews Hotel (Jefferson Station).  The Greyhound bus station is two blocks away. Travel within the city and regionally are easy given the breadth of SEPTA’s coverage. So for the nitty gritty:

Getting to Philadelphia/the Loews:

By air:
From the airport we highly suggest you take the SEPTA Airport Regional Rail line to the third Center City stop, Jefferson Station – do not change trains, do not pass go.  Trains run every 30 minutes between the Airport and Center City. Trains operate from Center City to the airport from 4:25 a.m. to 11:25 p.m. and from the Airport to Center City from 5:07 a.m. and 12:07 a.m.  The one-way fare to Center City is $8.00 cash only. Purchase an Individual Independence Pass from the conductor for $12.00 to get unlimited travel in SEPTA buses, trolleys, subways, and Regional Rail for one whole day.  Totally worth the extra $4.00 if you want to explore more of the city before you settle in or before you leave town.

By train and bus:
30th Street Station (PHL)
Stop for Amtrak, SEPTA, Megabus, and Bolt Bus
2955 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Bolt Bus

NOTE: If you arrive in Philadelphia via Amtrak you can change to the Center City line (eastbound) for free with your Amtrak ticket.  Take the Center City line to the Jefferson Station, you will come to street level across the street from the Loews. If you take the bus, you will need to purchase a ticket.  Follow the signs in side the train station for SEPTA.

Philadelphia Bus Station
1001 Filbert ST
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Other buses to Philadelphia can ge found at  The terminal stations for each may be different from those listed above, so be sure to check your reservations.

SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Association) serves not only the city of Philadelphia, but also southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.  You can travel from New York City via New Jersey Transit and SEPTA (connecting in Trenton) for a fraction of the fare on Amtrak.

By automobile:
Navigate to 1200 Market Street, Philadelphia, 19107.

Parking is available at the hotel for a daily inclusive fee of $49.00.  You may well find other parking accommodations cheaper than the hotel, but keep in mind that parking in general in Philadelphia can be pricey.  You will find the following apps useful in your quest for a stable for your motorized pony:
Park Whiz
Spot Hero

Getting Around Philadelphia:

SEPTA offers travel via bus, subway, trolley, light rail, and regional rail.  Depending on the mode of transport fares are paid with tickets, tokens, passes, or a combination of these.  Tokens are being phased out, but still available from the Septa store next to the hotel.

HINT: If you are planning on taking just a few bus or subway trips within Center City, it is most economical to buy a bag of Tokens.  There is a SEPTA sales point (and transit gift shop) right next to the Loews Hotel at 1234 Market ST.

Philly also has cab services, Lyft, and Uber.

WALKING:  Center City Philadelphia is very walkable use this map to get your bearings and find locations in walking distance (of course that may mean different  things to different people). We will have some paper copies at the registration desk.

In anticipation of good weather (fingers crossed), you might consider a walking tour or two. Here are a few self-guided tours you can take at your own pace:

The Constitutional Walking Tour of Philadelphia (downloadable PDF)
Rittenhouse West Tour from the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia (downloadable PDF)
Rittenhouse East Tour from the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia (downloadable PDF)

GPSMYCITY also has several walking tours of Philadelphia. Download their app (from both Apple’s App Store and Google play) and search for Philly.  They have tours of Old City, Fairmount, Pine Street antiques, Center City Shopping, Society Hill and more.  NOTE: The app works offline, so no data is needed.

Food in Philly

If there is one thing Philadelphians love to do it is eat, well that and we love our sports teams, connection to history, and on occasion we like to drink. The restaurant scene in City of Brotherly love has something for everyone. Sure you should probably try a Tony Luke’s cheesesteak with broccoli rabe and sharp provolone (yes you should) and have a pretzel, but there is so much more to explore. And of course you will find chain restaurants like Cheesecake Factory and the Hard Rock Cafe, but you will want to get out and feast on the culinary magic.

We know, we know the first thing you will want to know is where to find the java. Never fear VRAers plenty of coffee to be had. Local roaster La Colombe now has a kiosk in the lobby of the hotel and another shop to the west on the southwest corner of Dilworth Plaza. Their brew is divine! In Reading Terminal Market you can find two Old City Coffee locations (see the Reading Terminal map linked below). And for more familiar brews there is a Starbucks and a Dunkin’ Donuts across the street from the hotel.

Short walking distance from the hotel
Catty-corner from the hotel is the Reading Terminal Market, one of the oldest and largest public markets in the US. Here you can find everything from produce, locally sourced meats, seafood, baked goods, and a number of restaurants. You can also find cookbooks, soap, kitchenware, Philly souvenirs, etc. Maps of vendors are available at each entrance and there is an interactive map online.

Caribou Café
Cuisine from 15 regions of France and great cocktails (they make a mean sazerac) in a great Parisian bistro setting. Try the Flammenkùche with smoked salmon and arugula or a wild mushroom crêpe with Parisian ham and Mornay sauce.

Modern and traditional Indian cuisine under the direction of a chef trained in Mumbai. Feast on Goan paella with boondi raita, chicken tikka chipotle as well as traditional favourites. Gluten free and vegetarian options abound.

Smokin’ Betty’s
Bar/restaurant featuring BBQ & homestyle comfort food. It won’t be the same BBQ as we had last year in Louisville, but Smokin’ Betty’s is a Center City destination. Great happy hour to go with your burgers, BBQ, and Sandwiches.

Vietnam Restaurant (in Chinatown)
This gem opened in 1984 and is run by the Lai family who fled Vietnam in 1978 and made their home in Philadelphia. Located on the edge of Chinatown, Vietnam offers not only excellent Vietnamese fare, but also a great lounge upstairs, Bar Saigon.

Mission Taqueria
This little second floor cantina will fill you up without emptying your wallet. The make their fresh ground masa tortillas in house and with specials like TACO TUESDAY, you must check it out.

Mexican street food inspired menu, which isn’t big, but it doesn’t need to be. Chips, salsa, guacamole, tacos, taquizas and enchiladas – it’s all you could want. Vegetarian options upon request.

Vegetables command the spotlight at this restaurant in the Tiger Building on Locust Street. Locally sourced veggies are the base for Vedge’s seasonal menu. No critters involved at any point in the creation of your dish. Cocktails feature house-made syrups and bitters. “Vedge prides itself on being a ‘foodie’s’ restaurant – for omnivores, vegetarians, vegans, and carnivores alike.” Reservations highly recommended!


Bud and Marilyn’s
Named for Chef Marcie Blaine Turney’s grandparents, this spot is modeled in the restaurant she grew up in in Rippon, WI, called ‘The Spot.’ They serve up simple American comfort food.

And if grocery items are on your list try MOM’s Organic Market.

Independence Hall/Washington Square area

The Red Owl Tavern
Attached to the Kimpton Hotel, this American fare restaurant provide breakfast, lunch and dinner. They offer gluten-free options, and the wait staff are attentive. There are two floors—the lower level large bar area has more energy, while the upstairs is quiet for conversation. It’s within close proximity to Independence Hall, Old City Hall, The Liberty Bell and the Benjamin Franklin Museum.

Rittenhouse Square/French Quarter area

Village Whiskey
Love this bar and the burgers and fries are killer. It’s a quaint Prohibition style era bar flanked with white subway tile, leather couches, and marble tables. It’s sleek and modern, but not stuffy. Great for late night carousing, but also have brunch, lunch, happy hour and dinner. They specialize in whiskey drinks and have 200 types for you to dabble your taste buds. Outside seating available when the weather is warmer. Menu and Whiskey Menu. Ask for Gluten-free options.

Parc Restaurant
Situated across from the Curtis School of Music on Rittenhouse Square, Parc Brasserie “pays tribute to French café culture, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week. It is one of the more expensive restaurants on this list, but if you are going to splurge – this is a great place to do it!

Monk’s Café
“The Soul of Belgium in the Heart of Philadelphia.” The food menu is modest, but excellent. Mussels and pommes frites are stand-outs. The star of Monk’s is the beer menu which features, as you might expect, a great number of Belgian brews on tap and in the bottle.

Federal Donuts
Fancy donuts and crispy fried chicken – a match made in heaven. Open 7am-7pm. Also located in University City area.

The Dandelion
London inspired gastropub, with delicious brunch and afternoon tea options.

V Street
“Vegan riffs on global street food” (you won’t miss the meat!). From the same family as Vedge but more casual.

Multiple Bars and restaurants in and around Fairmount

Sabrina’s Café
Sabrina’s brunch and generous menu invite long lines and long waits on the weekends. Breakfast is served all day. The food and hospitality are amazing, and the quirky ambiance and décor provide conversation starters. If you have the pleasure of going during a weekday it will be well worth the visit. Gluten-free options are available.

Art Museum BYOB
1804 Callowhill St.
Philadelphia, PA 19130
(215) 636-9061

University City
227 N 34th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 222-1022

Black Taxi, Brigids, London Grill or McCrossen’s Tavern are great for lunch, dinner and/or Happy Hour. They are pub style and sports pubs, and relegated to American Fare. All of them are tasty with a wide variety of food menu items and the bar areas are quite large and can fit groups, especially London Grill and McCrossen’s. Outdoor seating is available in warmer weather at all locations and gluten-free options are available at London Grill and McCrossen’s.

A great spot for lunch, this small Japanese restaurant is in very close proximity to the Perelman building and across the street from the PMA. Quiet and delicious—food is prepared when ordered. They offer sushi, noodles and bulgogi. Ask for the Tamari, if gluten-free.

University City

White Dog Café
A University City staple, it was farm to table before farm to table was a thing. The menu is seasonal and focuses on local, sustainable, and organic ingredients. It is tucked into three renovated brownstones near the University of Pennsylvania campus. Vegetarian/vegan menu available on request.

“Embracing healthy bodies, a healthy planet, and compassion for all living things we bring delicious vegan food to people everywhere.” This is one of three locations in the city, focusing on casual vegetarian and vegan options. Known for their Green Smoothies!

Ramen Bar
You want noodles – they have them. Located on both the Penn and Drexel campuses. Affordable ramen (with vegetarian options) and sushi in a casual dining room that includes a bar.

Green Line Cafe
“West Philly’s living room” serves up organic and fair-trade coffee as well as a selection of sandwiches, pastries, and snacks, including vegan options. Several locations in West Philly with one in Center City at 17th and Arch just south of the Ben Franklin Parkway.

Local 44
“A neighborhood beer joint” serving a variety of food options and craft beer.

As you might imagine the possibilities are endless when it comes to eating in Philly. Center City is designed for walking, but of course public transportation, taxi, Lyft, and Uber can take you further afield to find more GASTRO-TREASURE. West Philly (Desi Village, Renata’s Kitchen, lots of Ethiopian options), South Philly (9th Street Italian Market, Creperie Beau Monde), North Philly (Saint Benjamin Brewing Company), all have something to offer.

VRA 2018: Thursday and Friday Workshops

Here are details on the workshops available to you on Thursday and Friday at VRA 2018 in Philadelphia. Each day features two workshops, one with a focus on technology, and another exploring issues related to professional development and advocacy for the VR profession. I should also mention that Tuesday’s workshops are nearly full, so don’t wait to register and take advantage of the great opportunities listed below.


  • How Do I?… Let’s Geek Out and Play!
    Join us in this hybrid workshop/show-and-tell demonstration and be part of the conversation of why certain types of hardware might be more applicable than others to your position and institution, what funding is needed to make it work and how the A/V will make your workflow easier and worth the cost when discussing the possibility to administrators.

The speakers will discuss the hardware and software that they use, in addition to the workflows, achievements and challenges that they have faced. The quintessential part of this special workshop is the show-and-tell where the session members will demonstrate and pass around the hardware to audience members. Chris Strasbaugh will demonstrate a Raspberry Pi, a 360 camera, and a DJI drone, while Jodi Hoover will bring a couple goodies to share including an audio recorder, a Go-Pro, DSLR, mini-projector, besides a mic and video camera. Finally, Jenni Rodda will demo her still and video camera with the group.

  • Scope Shift: Moving from Drifting to Driving
    Over the short and medium-term, professionals across a wide variety of fields have experienced profound job-related change. Referring to this change as “scope drift” has become commonplace. Workshop participants will explore recasting “scope drift” as “scope shift.” Strategies for keeping pace with current trends, mapping trends to local institutional contexts, and recasting the role(s) available within evolving conditions will be addressed so that participants can return to their home institutions feeling empowered to engage as fully invested change agents in an ever-evolving milieu.


  • VREPS Workshop: Value, Role, & Meaning: An Institutional Approach to Understanding Visual Resource Management
    In the rapidly changing field of visual resources, explaining your responsibilities and advocating for your position with administration can be increasingly complex. In this workshop, we will explore the different duties and roles VR professionals perform and provide examples of the ways your VR colleagues explain the value of their work to both peers and superiors. This workshop will provide a broad range of experiences, including: a panel of professionals from academia, archives, and museums; individual activities to help you articulate the value of your position and develop your own elevator speech; and tips for ways to increase the visibility of your position to your community. Participants will leave this workshop with a greater understanding of the tasks other VR professionals engage in and a concrete starting point for how best to explain your personal responsibilities and make a strong case to administration for the value of your position.
  • Python for Beginners
    If you are doing things like supporting Digital Humanities faculty, working with students analyzing and visualizing data, developing your own data project, processing metadata about your collections, or building web displays for digital assets, Python may be worth exploring. Many of us rely on existing tools such as Gephi, Omeka, or Scalar to come up with project solutions. But, sometimes the tools that already exist do not fit the needs of the research or project. Sometimes you need to make your own tool. Python is a flexible, cross-platform, modular, object-oriented programming language used for a variety of basic and high-level computing projects. It is great for back-end web development, data analysis, database management, scientific and humanities computing, and has an active, friendly user community. Even if you don’t plan on becoming a programmer yourself, knowledge of coding helps you to talk to, or translate between, scholars, students, administrators and programmers.

This basic introductory workshop will cover the basics of computer programming, how python can be used in your work, and how to get started from scratch. You will leave encouraged to consider coding solutions and better ready to get started using code or supporting others as they build their own tools.

Participants will be asked to provide their own laptop and have the software already installed. Previous experience with python or coding in any programming languages not required. The workshop organizers recommend novices read through or take free python overviews/tutorials in advance.

Conference Workshops: 3D Viz, ArchGIS, and other tools

We are now less than two months away from the start of VRA 2018 in Philadelphia. Fitting with the conference theme of Workshop of the World, I wanted to share the details of the three great workshops that are on the schedule for the morning of Tuesday, March 27th.

Basics of Photogrammetry – 3D Visualization of Cultural Heritage Objects
Photogrammetry, the process of creating 3D digital models from a series of still photographs, has the potential of making cultural heritage objects and collections more accessible. The low-cost and relatively easy-to-learn technique allows for the quick creation of highly-accurate 3D renderings of objects, from small statuettes, to entire buildings and historic sites. Several cultural heritage institutions, including the British Museum and the Réunion des musées nationaux – Grand Palais, are already employing photogrammetry to provide greater access to their collections. And the technique was a key topic of conversation at a recent conference on 2D and 3D photography held at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Given the increasing importance of 3D visualization in the cultural heritage field, this workshop will focus on the basics of photogrammetry, from image capture and editing, to working with photogrammetry software such as Agisoft Photoscan and Autodesk Remake, to editing and sharing 3D models on websites such as Sketchfab. Employing a small statuette as a working example, the 4-hour-long workshop will include discussions, demonstrations and hands-on activities on all aspects of the photogrammetry workflow. The end result of the workshop will be the creation of a 3D model. Upon completion of the workshop, participants will be empowered to begin their own experiments in photogrammetry.

Collaborative Digital Asset Management: Practical Approaches and Useful Tools
At the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA), digital asset management is carried out by an inter-departmental committee made up of asset and data creators representing photography, rights and reproductions, archives, exhibitions, registration, and technology. The work of the committee has helped to break down traditional silos between departments as collections are added to a shared digital asset management system (DAMS). This collaborative approach has an additional benefit of reasserting content creators from each department as the primary managers of their digital assets and data, as opposed to IT staff who often lead DAMS selection, implementation, and management. This results in workflows that are more integrated with other department activities and the potential to better connect collections that may be separated by both physical and organizational barriers.

For this workshop, three members of the IMA’s DAMS committee have evaluated the successes and lessons learned from their years of experience to develop a general project management framework for taking a collaborative approach to selecting, implementing, and managing a new DAMS. This broad framework has the flexibility to be applied in a wide variety of institutional contexts with varying staffing levels and areas of expertise, including those with minimal internal tech support. Within the context of the presentation of this broad framework, hands-on activities will give attendees the opportunity to think through common challenges in metadata schema design and thesaurus creation, and to experiment with multiple freely-available tools that aid in metadata and digital asset evaluation and cleanup in preparation for migration.

Workshopping the World: ArcGIS Online & Story Maps
Spatial is Special! Have you ever wanted to learn Geographic Information Systems (GIS)? Want to incorporate mapping into your DH projects? Do you have GIS data that can benefit from deeper analysis? This workshop will introduce you to GIS and teach you how to build your own maps.

GIS allows us to visualize and analyze data across the world. It is a useful tool for researchers who are looking for global patterns and trends. Mapped visualizations can also illustrate narratives for digital humanities projects.

Participation is limited for these workshops, and they are filling up, so register for the conference soon!


Tours: Murals and Artists and Libraries (or Archives), oh my! – Part 2

Tours 3 and 4 are for you if you’d like to venture west of the Schuylkill River! These tours will feature two great institutions of the University of Pennsylvania campus and the City of Philadelphia.

TOUR #3: Friday, March 30th from 9:00am-10:00am. Tour of the Fisher Fine Arts Library. This tour is free but space is limited to 20 people. To register for this tour click here. Explore the architecture of Frank Furness at the University of Pennsylvania’s Fisher Fine Arts Library, which opened in 1891 as the University Library. The building was restored in 1991 by the firm of Venturi, Rauch & Scott Brown and is now home to the university’s collections on art and design. You’ll get a close look at the G. Holmes Perkins rare book collection on architectural history, as well as the recently opened Materials Library for the hands-on study of materials.

Please note that participants are responsible for arranging their own transportation to and from the Fisher Fine Arts Library, located at 220 South 34th Street on Penn’s campus.

Public transit: 69th St direction MFL (Market-Frankford Line) from 13th St MFL Station to 34th St MFL Station. Or Westbound trolley lines 10, 11, 13, 34, or 36 from 13th St Trolley Station to 36th St Trolley Station. Cost $2.50 per ride. Allow 15 to 20 minutes travel time each direction.
Walking: Distance 1.9 miles from the hotel, via one of the three pedestrian-friendly bridges of Market, Chestnut, or Walnut Streets. Allow 40 to 45 minutes each direction.

TOUR #4: Friday, March 30th from 11:00am-12:00pm. Tour of the Archives of the Penn Museum. This tour is $20 and space is limited to 20 people. To register for this tour click here. The Archives of the Penn Museum (University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology) house an extensive photograph collection of Penn excavations in the field. Senior Archivist Alessandro Pezzati will guide you on a behind-the-scenes tour of rare photographic prints of pioneers in the field of archaeology and anthropology from around the world, ranging from the 1860s to the 1920s. Tour cost includes discounted admission to the Penn Museum!

Please note that participants are responsible for arranging their own transportation to and from the Penn Museum, located at 3260 South Street on Penn’s campus.

Public transit: 69th St direction MFL (Market-Frankford Line) from 13th St MFL Station to 34th St MFL Station. Or Westbound trolley lines 10, 11, 13, 34, 36 from 13th St Trolley Station to 36th St Trolley Station. Or #42 Bus from Walnut & 12th to 34th & Convention. Cost $2.50 per ride. Allow 20 minutes travel time each direction.
Walking: Distance 2 miles from the hotel, via one of the three pedestrian-friendly bridges of Market, Chestnut, or Walnut Streets. Allow 40 to 45 minutes each direction.

Title: VRA 2018 – Philly: And now for something a little bit different…Posters, Sponsors, Raffle and a Special Guest

We would like to invite you to attend one of the biggest social events of the season, or at least of our VRA 2018 Annual Conference in Philadelphia. The Happy Hour: Posters, Sponsors, and Raffle event will take place on Wednesday, March 28th, from 5:30-7:30. Start your evening by visiting with VRA sponsors as they showcase their products and services. Enjoy some cheese and a glass of wine (or non-alcoholic beverage) while you mingle with the poster presenters and learn more about their research and projects. Catch up with friends as you peruse the array of wonderful raffle prizes provided by sponsors, VRA Chapters, and other generous individuals. Buy your tickets, and then prepare for your number to potentially be called by our surprise guest MC! (One of Philadelphia’s most famous citizens.) Join your colleagues and attend this years’ Philly version of a VRA tradition!

Some details:
What are the prizes?
Raffle tickets will be drawn for Individual Donations, Sponsor Prizes, Chapter Boxes, and a 50/50 raffle. New this year will be a listing of prizes that you can peruse online before the conference. Items will only be on display at the hotel the afternoon of the actual Raffle. Look for an announcement soon that includes a prize donation form.

What is a chapter box?
Well, it is like those relics of the past, chapter baskets, but notably the container of choice is a box. And more importantly a specific USPS Large-sized, flat-rate, 12 x 12 x 5.5 inch box. We are asking that chapters contribute what they want to the raffle prizes, but that their contribution fit inside this box, and follow USPS postal guidelines. Then, after the winner is drawn, they can elect to have the box shipped if they don’t have room in luggage or trunk or bicycle basket. The shipping rate by the time of the conference will be $18.85 and we are asking the chapters to take on this potential charge. However, we want to make it super easy for you, so if the winner elects shipping we will just debit your bursary account automatically.

How will the raffle work?
Tickets will cost $4.00 each or 3/$10.00, and will be available for purchase at the registration desk during the conference, and before the Raffle event (up to about 6:45pm). You will also get tickets from Sponsors as you visit their tables at the Poster Session and Sponsor event. Participants can enter the raffle/s for the items they are interested in, and we will do one drawing per Item or Lot, with no recombining of tickets or automatic entries. You must be present to win a prize.

Philly: ​Murals and Artists and Libraries (or Archives), oh my!

Happy New Year! Today we’d like to tell you about some of the exciting tours we have lined up for the 2018 conference. Covered here are Tours #1, #2, and #5 as listed on the registration form.

TOUR #1 Tuesday, March 27th from 10:30am-12:00pm. Tour of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Library and Archives. This tour is free, but space is limited to 25 people. To register for this tour click here. Shepherded by Allan Kohl, a unique opportunity for a Behind-the-Scenes Tour at the Library & Archives Department. PMA Librarians will provide a tour of the Library & Archives spaces, offices and the photographing services area. Not to be missed, attendees will observe artifacts from their Archive, and get a glimpse into the other departments and treasures of the PMA Library & Archives areas not usually shown to the public. To register for this tour, click here.

Please note that participants are responsible for arranging their own transportation to and from the PMA Library & Archives at the Perelman Building (this is the building across from the PMA—the Library & Archives are not in the main building, originally the Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company Building).

Here are some options:
Public transit: #32 Bus from Juniper and Commerce Streets to Pennsylvania Ave & Fairmount Ave stop. Cost: $2.50 per ride. Allow a minimum of 20 minutes each way.
Lyft: Approximate cost $10 per person for the trip to the Perelman Building and back to the Hotel. The cost is indicative of approximately 4 passengers in a vehicle. The Board will arrange for the Lyft service. Allow a minimum of 15 minutes each way.
Walking: Distance 1.7 miles from conference hotel. Allow at least 30-40 minutes each direction.

TOUR #2 Thursday, March 29 from 2:15-5:15pm. Follow up our keynote speaker, Jane Golden, with a tour of her labor of love. This tour costs $35.00, and is limited to 25 people. Viewing all of the murals supported by Mural Arts Philadelphia could take days and days, but in just a few hours you will get to know a number of them on the Masterpieces East trolley tour which will take you through parts of North Philadelphia and Center City to the east of Broad Street. You will see murals such as Common Threads by Meg Salesman, The Stamp of Incarceration: James Anderson by Shepard Fairey, and Start From Here by Tin Wei Lin. The tour will leave from and return to the Loews Hotel Lobby. Bring your camera and be ready to explore a portion of the mural arts collection via the dry and toasty mural arts trolley. The public tour season does not start up again until April, so be sure not to miss this opportunity! To register for this tour, click here.

TOUR #5 Friday, March 30 from 3:00pm – 4:30pm.

Todd Arsenault, Untitled, Oil painting, 2012

Reserve your Friday afternoon for Artists’ Studio Tours in the Grays Ferry Area. The Tour is free, but space is limited to 15 people. Shepherded by Jen Kniesch, an opportunity to have a Behind-the-Scenes Tour of Artists’ Studios from local artists Todd Arsenault, Kris Benedict and Lindsay Deifik. Lindsay Deifik will showcase her prints, fabrics, drawings and sculptural processes and techniques, while Kris Benedict and Todd Arsenault, who share a studio, will provide a show-and-tell of their painterly figurative and abstract works and discuss their collaborative series. Don’t miss the chance to talk to local Philly artists! To register for this tour, click here.

Exact addresses will be given to participants at the conference and please note that participants are responsible for arranging their own transportation to and from the Artists’ Studios.
Public Transit: #12 Bus from Walnut and 12th Streets to Grays Ferry Avenue and 30th Street. Cost: $2.50 per ride. Allow a minimum of 25 minutes each way.
Lyft: Approximate cost $10 per person for the trip to the Grays Ferry Area and back to the Hotel. The cost is indicative of approximately 4 passengers in a vehicle. The Board will arrange for the Lyft service. Allow a minimum of 20 minutes each way.
Walking: Distance 2.5 miles from the conference hotel. Allow 60 minutes each direction.


VRA 2018 – Keynote Speaker, Jane Golden

We are thrilled to announce this year’s keynote speaker for our 2018 VRA Annual Conference in Philadelphia – Jane Golden.

Jane Golden is Executive Director of Mural Arts Philadelphia, overseeing its growth from a small city agency to the nation’s largest mural program and a model for community development around the globe. Under Golden’s direction, the Mural Arts Program has created more than 3,800 landmark works of public art through innovative collaborations with community-based organizations, city agencies, nonprofits, schools, the private sector, and philanthropies. Sought after as an expert on urban transformation through art, Golden has received numerous awards for her work, including the 2017 ACE (Mentor Program) Person of the Year Award, the 2016 Women of Distinction Award from the Philadelphia Business Journal, the 2016 Paul Philippe Cret Award from the American Institute of Architects, the 2016 Woman of Influence Award from Pearl S. Buck International, the Philadelphia Award, The Hepburn Medal from the Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center at Bryn Mawr College, the Visionary Woman Award from Moore College of Art & Design, the 2012 Governor’s Award for Innovation in the Arts, a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania Award from former Governor Edward G. Rendell, the Adela Dwyer / St. Thomas Peace Award from Villanova University, LaSalle University’s Alumni Association’s Signum Fidei Medal, and an Eisenhower Exchange Fellowship Award. Golden has co-authored three books about the murals in Philadelphia. She is an adjunct instructor at the University of Pennsylvania and Moore College of Art & Design. She holds an MFA from Rutgers University, degrees in fine arts and political science from Stanford University, and honorary degrees from Drexel University, St. Joseph’s University, Swarthmore College, Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, Widener University, Haverford College, and Villanova University. In addition, Golden serves on the Mayor’s Cultural Advisory Council, the Penn Museum Advisory Committee, and the board of directors of The Heliotrope Foundation.

Jane’s work highlights the rewarding nature of collaborative work and creative thinking.  Mural Arts Philadelphia is more than an organization that creates works of public art; its complex projects defy concise definition.  They are about art, but they are also about collaboration, public history, civic engagement, restorative justice, and civic discourse. Just as many cities around the world have found inspiration in the work of Mural Arts Philadelphia, I think we will all find inspiration and motivation in Jane’s address on Tuesday, March 27th.

-Jeannine Keefer

The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection

The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, founded in 1682 by William Penn, nestled between the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers, and former capital of the United States has much to offer in terms of history, art, culture, and food and it will be our home from March 24- March 29, 2018.  The city has a rich industrial past – in 1908 it marketed itself as the World’s greatest workshop with hundreds of manufactories (or small factories) dotting the urban landscape. Probably the most accurate description of Philadelphia is that it is a big small town. The current city was shaped in the period after World War II primarily under the guidance of Edmund Bacon who remained the city planner from 1948-1972.  He loved the city of Philadelphia and even in his 90s rode a skateboard in Love Park to protest exclusions in a re-design.


Founded by William Penn and made the center of the world by Benjamin Franklin, Philadelphia is a city of firsts:
First planned city in America.
First public parks.
First paper mill.
First public school.
First institution devoted to science (American Philosophical Society).
First public library.
First post office.
First newspaper.
First hospital.
First volunteer fire department.
First university (this claim is of course challenged by other institutions).
First permanent theatre.
First Anti-Slavery society.
First 4th of July celebration.
First Congress of the US.
First American flag.
First Stock Exchange.
First turnpike road.
First Mint.
First municipal water system.
First U.S. printing press.
First World’s Fair in the US (Centennial Exhibition of 1876).
First Mother’s Day celebration.
First Zoo.
First Art Museum (Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts).
First Girl Scout Cookies.
First computer.

Philadelphia is also home to the first International Style skyscraper, the former PSFS Building and now the Loews Hotel, designed by George Howe and William Lescaze – which will be our base of operations for our third conference in Philadelphia.  It is centrally located to the east of City Hall on Market Street and kitty corner from the historic Reading Terminal Market. The Reading Terminal was used up until 1985 (in the last years by SEPTA) and can be seen, along with several other Philly landmarks, in a quick stroll around the hotel.

Philadelphia has more public art than any other city in the US.  Sculpture is everywhere and ranges in type from Robert Indiana’s Love statue in Love Park, to the billy goat beloved by children in Rittenhouse Square, and even the Rocky statue at the foot of the PMA steps.  You will also find a lively mural arts program (tour info coming soon)! In addition to more historic art treasures there is an active contemporary art and gallery scene that has spread far beyond the traditional galleries in center city (tour info coming soon)! You will find many museums in Philadelphia and can checkout this (in progress) list of hours and fees.

Save the date!

The Visual Resources Association 2018 Annual Conference will be held Tuesday March 27 – Friday, March 30th at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel in Philadelphia, PA.  The conference theme is Workshop of the World. Save the date!