Philly Chooses GIS to Manage its Murals

Web-based Application Uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Technologies to Support Unique Access to Philadelphia’s Murals

PHILADELPHIA – January 7, 2009 – Beginning January 29, 2009, the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program is launching a brand new way to learn about and manage information about the murals that have made Philadelphia famous. Muralfarm.org is the site where information about the growing body of public art created by the Mural Arts Program has been planted. At Muralfarm.org, an interactive geographic online web application, pictures and detailed information about murals can be searched by artist, theme, date, location, neighborhood, and other key terms. Visitors to Muralfarm.org can tag favorite photographs, save searches, be notified when new murals are added thanks to GeoRSS feeds, and enjoy special features such as viewing the murals in Google Earth and Google Maps. Mural Arts Program staff can easily and efficiently manage information pertaining to each mural through a sophisticated asset management back-end interface. Take a trip to the farm – where information about murals grows daily – to explore Philadelphia, the “City of Murals.” The new site, www.muralfarm.org, will officially launch on January 29, 2009.


Muralfarm.org is powered by Sajara, a geographic digital asset management (DAM) software, developed by Avencia Incorporated, an award-winning GIS software development firm based in Philadelphia. Sajara combines the power of geography with the search and metadata management features of a conventional digital asset management system.

Sajara enables the Mural Arts Program to geographically tag each photo, document, video or audio clip stored in the asset database using a variety of different geocoding options. In its most recent version, support for geographic assets that cover regions, such as scanned map images, has been added. This is fairly unique because while a few asset management systems have geographic search capabilities, they are usually limited to searching point locations. Sajara uses an open source OpenLayers toolkit to support a broad range of mapping engines including ArcIMS, ArcGIS Server, GeoServer, MapServer, GoogleMaps, Microsoft Virtual Earth and others.

“We are pleased to make our public art even more accessible to the world,” said Mural Arts Program Executive Director Jane Golden. “We get constant requests from around the globe from municipalities, individuals, and other arts organizations who are interested in our work. Muralfarm.org will allow everybody easy-to-use access to all of our nearly 3,000 murals.”

Each mural will be assigned an identification number, a single record, and latitude and longitude coordinates in order to be searched by location. Within that record, there will be photographs of the mural (and in some cases, “before” photographs of the mural site), and detailed information about each work of art . In addition to the location and the title of the mural, details will include the lead artist’s name, names of assistants, partners and sponsors, dates of completion and dedication, as well as tags and themes.

“Sajara is ideal for archives, museums, and other types of institutions that have collections that are geographic in nature,” said Avencia CEO and President Robert Cheetham. “The Muralfarm site is an exciting contrast to our success with the historic collection of the Philadelphia City Archives. The PhillyHistory.org site has attracted more than half a million visitors to a collection that was almost completely hidden from public view. Muralfarm.org is a smaller collection but shares a geographic component that we hope will lend itself to walking tours as well as the creation of a broad community of people interested in Philadelphia’s stunning murals.”

The creation of Muralfarm.org was supported by The Trustees’ Philanthropy Fund of the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund and The McLean Contributionship. Blue Cadet, an award-winning full service interactive design agency provided graphic design services for the website and the design of the Muralfarm.org logo.

The Mural Arts Program is the nation’s largest mural program. Since 1984, the Mural Arts Program has created nearly 3,000 murals and works of public art, which are now part of Philadelphia’s civic landscape and a source of inspiration to the thousands of residents and visitors who encounter them, earning Philadelphia international recognition as the “City of Murals.” The Mural Arts Program engages over 100 communities each year in the transformation of neighborhoods through the mural-making process. The Mural Arts Program’s award-winning, free art education programs annually serve over 3,000 youth at sites throughout the city and at-risk teens through education outreach programs. The Program also serves adult offenders in local prisons and rehabilitation centers, using the restorative power of art to break the cycle of crime and violence in our communities.


Media Contact:
Cari Feiler Bender
(610) 416-1216
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