City of Philadelphia asking for artist submissions for permanent Harriet Tubman statue

A statue of Harriet Tubman is unveiled on the North Apron of City Hall

Philadelphia unveiled a temporary statue of Harriet Tubman on the North Apron of City Hall in January 2022. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Philadelphia is looking for artists to design a permanent statue of Harriet Tubman that will be installed outside of City Hall.

The city’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy (OACCE) and the African American Historic Statue Advisory Committee will accept bids for the statue design until Jan. 26. It will be the first statue of an African American historic female figure in the city’s public art collection.

The statue will be installed on the Northeast apron of City Hall, across the street from the Masonic Temple. The project budget is $500,000. Because of the statue’s location, artists will need to take into account space needed to allow pedestrians to walk around and access the statue on all sides.

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Minority, female artists or artist teams are strongly encouraged to apply. Local artists who live or work in the Greater Philadelphia area will be prioritized for this opportunity, but submission from anywhere will be considered.

Design proposals are not currently being accepted. The application is only checking for an artist’s qualifications.

The first part of the timeline will accept submissions for eight weeks, and then the Advisory Committee will select five semifinalists, taking into consideration the public’s voice.

During the second part, the five semi-finalists will be asked to create and propose original designs for the Harriet Tubman statue. They will each receive a $1,000 stipend, which should cover the costs of producing a written and visual proposal including images, models, renderings, and other materials.

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Two meetings are planned next April and June to allow for the public to weigh in on the submitted proposals, after which Philadelphians will be given four weeks to vote on their favorite designs and provide feedback.

Once the finalist is chosen, the artist will coordinate with city agencies and the OACCE to further develop the concept and work on the technical details of the project site.

The statue will then need to be approved by the Philadelphia Art Commission before construction starts. It’s expected for the statue to be completed between summer 2024 to early 2025.

Plans to create a permanent statue were announced back in March after a temporary one was installed in celebration of Tubman’s 200th birthday. In October, the city put out a survey to get input on what Philadelphians would like to see implemented in the statue.

Artists can click here to apply.

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