About

Philadelphia Contemporary presents contemporary art through a dynamic model of collaboration and partnership. Since 2016, we have offered a robust program of pop-up exhibitions and performances across the Philadelphia area in collaboration with various partner organizations, while working towards building a new permanent home. Our future building designed by Johnston Marklee will be an independent, freestanding art space: multidisciplinary and exploratory.

Philadelphia Contemporary is a non-profit 501(c)(3).
Hear more about how Philadelphia Contemporary got started on WYBCX Yale University Radio here.

+ Mission & Vision

Mission
Philadelphia Contemporary presents cross-disciplinary art that reflects the diversity and vitality of Philadelphia. We thrive through a dynamic and sustainable model of collaboration and partnership. We are developing a substantial new building as a permanent home: it will be accessible, welcoming, and surprising.

Vision
Create a globally oriented hub for contemporary art that is deeply rooted in the diverse communities of Philadelphia. Create a building that serves and delights artists, visitors, and enhances Philadelphia’s cultural ecosystem. Champion a vibrant and sustainable business model based on partnerships and collaborations. Educate and empower youth through art.

+ Who We Are

Staff

Kerry Bickford
Director of Programs

Annie Chiu
Development and Operations Manager

Sunanda Ghosh
Director of External Relations

Dianne Loftis
Communications Manager

Harry Philbrick
Founding Director & CEO

Nicole Pollard
Program Coordinator

M Slater
Graphic Design & Digital Media Editor

Nato Thompson
Sueyun & Gene Locks Artistic Director

Yolanda Wisher
Curator of Spoken Word

+ Frequently Asked Questions

What is Philadelphia Contemporary?
Philadelphia Contemporary commissions and presents contemporary art through a dynamic model of collaboration and partnership. Since 2016, we have offered a robust program of pop-up exhibitions and performances across the Philadelphia area, primarily focusing on visual art, performance art, and spoken word in public spaces. As we work towards building a new permanent home, we will continue to produce forward-thinking projects in different sites in Philadelphia.

What pop-up programs have you presented?
Our initial programming included contemporary sculpture by Jordan Griska, overnight performances by No Face Performance Group, a poetry festival activating 30th Street Station, and an original performance series with artist Emma Sulkowicz, among other projects.

In 2018 we worked with artist Jane Irish to transform historic Lemon Hill mansion with floor-to-ceiling paintings and ceramics, and organized Stellar Masses, a series of gatherings exploring the sacred roots and interstellar potential of poetic practices, curated by Yolanda Wisher, our Curator of Spoken Word. Finally, we produced Festival for the People at Cherry Street Pier, which included interactive sculptures in collaboration with CREOS; an interactive typewriter station; a series of specially-commissioned banners by Philadelphia artist Erlin Geffrard; video installations by local and international artists, and artist-designed flags. Three weekends of programming celebrated popular culture from across Philadelphia, from zines to movement arts, to tattooing and ASMR films.

Check out our past projects page for details!

What makes Philadelphia Contemporary different from other institutions in the city?
Our programmatic and organizational structure emphasizes the principles of collaboration, flexibility, and experimentation. We believe that constant dialogue and cooperation with artists and performers, as well as partnering foundations, museums, and institutions, will ensure that our exhibitions are always offering something new in Philadelphia.

We highlight exciting work by Philadelphia creators and bring an array of national and international artists to the city. We are committed to engaging audiences outside of the traditional museum-going community, collaborating with artists and partners who ask critical questions of our contemporary moment and of the possibilities that cultural production can hold. We’ve presented projects ranging from original commissions, to group exhibitions, to workshops and events featuring performance art, poetry, and contemporary dance.

Where is Philadelphia Contemporary located?
As we work towards a new permanent home, Philadelphia Contemporary is located wherever our pop-up programs and exhibitions appear. We’re partnering with our friends at People’s Emergency Center to have meeting space in the Powelton Village neighborhood.

Why does Philadelphia Contemporary need a building?
Philadelphia Contemporary wants a building for a number of reasons.  One of them is pure practicality—it’s easier to mount exhibitions in a dedicated space. While public art will always be central to our mission, a building makes continuous programming and community engagement possible. We envision the building as a local resource, facilitating a greater sense of connection and resonance around our projects. With a permanent space, we can build a hub where community members and cultural practitioners of all disciplines can interact and learn from each other.

We believe that a new space will contribute to a more resilient cultural infrastructure in Philadelphia, which is currently the only major American city that does not have an independent museum dedicated exclusively to contemporary art in its many forms. Bringing a collaborative, welcoming institution to Philadelphia, we seek to expand opportunities for local practitioners and engage the city through a strong community presence, a robust education program, and a vigorous curatorial approach.

What will your building be like?  
Philadelphia Contemporary aims to create a stunning building that will be accessible and attractive to the surrounding communities, the city at large and national and international cultural communities. It will operate as a civic catalyst providing multiple forms of engagement from social gatherings to experiments with young artists to world-class exhibitions.

For more information, please visit the Building Updates page of our website.

Will Philadelphia Contemporary have a permanent collection?
Philadelphia Contemporary will always be non-collecting and will not keep any art permanently on display.

Does Philadelphia Contemporary show work by local artists?
Philadelphia Contemporary is committed to exhibiting works by a diverse group of local, national, and international artists working in all media. At the moment, we cannot accept unsolicited submissions.

Where can I learn more about Philadelphia Contemporary’s upcoming projects?
Keep tabs on our upcoming projects by checking our homepage and following our social media channels. Our newsletter is also a great resource where you can get the latest Philadelphia Contemporary news and hear about other goings-on in Philly.

How can I contribute to Philadelphia Contemporary?
We very much welcome your participation in our programs around the city. If you like to volunteer for one of our events, please contact our staff at info [at] philadelphiacontemporary.org. If you’d like to donate, please visit our support page.

Where can I receive press information?
Please contact our staff at info [at] philadelphiacontemporary.org to receive an invitation to access Philadelphia Contemporary’s media forum.

What is contemporary art?
We love that question, and try to find the answer every day. It could be spoken word, painting, performance, or even tattoos and ASMR videos!

Seriously, what is contemporary art?
The art of our time.