Sculpture in the Streets: Restoring Albany’s Wall Art

Signs of the times: Advertising art gets a facelift in Albany

Before there were suburbs, downtown was where it was at. Albany was no exception, and hundreds of stores and shops advertised their services using signs and murals painted on the sides of the city’s buildings. The stores may be long gone, but some of these signs still exist. Once ghostly images of the past, they have now been restored and are being showcased through Albany’s Sculpture in the Streets program.

The original signs were painted by “wall dogs,” muralists working from the 1890s to the mid-1900s who used billboards and walls throughout the country as the canvas for their art. Five contemporary regional artists were selected to work on the restoration of the signs; to ensure design and historical accuracy, the painters relied on research assistance from the Morris Gerber Photo Collection at the Albany Institute of History and Art, the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation (part of the National Park Service), and the City of Albany’s Historic Planner.

Next time you’re wandering downtown, wander past 370 Broadway, 376 Broadway, 384 Broadway, or 120 Madison Avenue, look up, and take a glimpse at Albany as it once was — and now is again.

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View more wall art in the gallery of images below:

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