Temple Contemporary Projects

Temple Contemporary’s Advisory Council meets regularly to discuss pressing questions that inform our programming. At each meeting, our advisors vote on the questions that they feel have the greatest local relevance and international significance. 

You can watch videos and see additional content about these projects and more here.

Double Rainbows (2020)
When families in Philadelphia couldn’t go out to play, children helped bring joy to neighbors by displaying rainbows in windows from inside their homes. These rainbows were collected and will be displayed at the Please Touch Museum from May 6–June 27, 2021 in a pop-up exhibition as a show of citywide unity, happiness and hope.

Whistling Orchestra (2020)
Whistlers from across Philadelphia are being brought together for the first time to perform as The Whistling Orchestra of Philadelphia. The selected Philadelphians will be performing a new composition written specifically for whistling by the artist Emma Smith. Commissioned by Temple Contemporary at the Tyler School of Art and Architecture, Smith’s new work is inspired by music in the workplace and is composed in response to local archives and shared memories of making music at work in Philadelphia.

Symphony for a Broken Orchestra (2016–2019)
There are over 1,000 musical instruments owned by The School District of Philadelphia that cannot be played because they are broken and there is no available budget to fix them. Symphony for a Broken Orchestra is a city-wide effort initiated by Temple Contemporary in partnership with the School District of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Orchestra, The Boyer College of Music & Dance, the Curtis Institute and numerous professional/amateur musicians throughout the city. Together, these hundreds of musicians performed a unique composition in December 2017 that was written specifically for the sounds these instruments can only make in their broken state. This once in a lifetime arrangement was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang to unite generations of Philadelphia musicians and audiences in support of music education for our public schools.

Following the performance, Temple Contemporary, in collaboration with instrument repair professionals throughout the region, are repairing all of the fixable instruments and returning them back to the public schools they came from in the fall of 2018. Instrument repair kits will also be installed in every public school offering instrumental music classes, allowing any minor repairs to be fixed in the future.

reForm (2015–2016)
In 2013, two-dozen Philadelphia schools were shuttered by city authorities in an effort to close a budget deficit. In response to these closings, Temple Contemporary commissioned artist Pepón Osorio to create a new installation specifically addressing the loss of the Fairhill Elementary School in North Philadelphia, not far from Temple University.

Osorio, in collaboration with a group of teachers, students, parents, and neighbors created an art project inside a Tyler School of Art classroom which incorporated objects gathered from the closed Fairhill School building.

Vital Signs (October 2012–)
Before removable vinyl billboards and neon signs, businesses hired local sign painters to dress the side of their shop or factory with large hand painted advertisements.  Over time these painted advertisements have become landmarks of Philadelphia’s industrial heritage.  And, as many of these businesses faded away, so did their advertisements, which are colloquially known as “ghost signs”.  However, for a small handful of multi-generational family owned and operated Philadelphia shops their faded advertisement sends the wrong message.  One North Philadelphia resident assumed that the Henssler locksmith, up the street from his house, was out of business because its sign was so weathered and had never been repainted.  But that’s not the case – Henssler’s like a few other small multi-generational family owned shops are still going – they just don’t have the extra resources to help them maintain their historic advertising. 

Temple Contemporary has partnered with the Mural Arts Program to restore the advertisements of still open, family run businesses to their former luster. The goal of this project is to rejuvenate some of the business that the advertisements represent, as well as bring pride in Philadelphia’s historic small businesses back to the city and its neighborhoods.

Funeral For A Home (2013–2014)
Funeral For A Home is a highly brandable .org name best suited to everything about buildings and architecture in Philadelphia. It featured resources and events sections for a site that commemorated the slow decline and gradual rebirth of Philadelphia’s housing stock.

For archived projects, visit Temple Contemporary's website here.