Sciencenter and Ithaca Murals connect local passions with community

On Sunday, Sept. 26, community members gathered in the street next to the back entrance of Ithaca’s Sciencenter to see the reveal of the new Ithaca Murals exhibit—featuring 20 individual mini murals of artwork along the side of the building.


The coordination between the Sciencenter and Ithaca Murals promoted the connection of community, art, and activism in the city of Ithaca. Adrienne Testa, director of Exhibits & Facilities at Sciencenter, organized the murals collaboration with Caleb Thomas, facilitator of Ithaca Murals.

Testa and Thomas admire the new Ithaca Mural artwork outside of Sciencenter.

“We’ve played a robust role in Ithaca’s community for many, many years,” Testa said. “Almost three decades.”

The goal for the 20 MiniMurals at the Sciencenter is to transform the plain brown fence into a beautiful work of art.

Potential themes for the MiniMural proposal were posted to artists in the community:

  • How can science bring a community together? Our mission is to cultivate a broad community of curious, confident, critical thinkers.... a world where people explore, connect, and create through science.

  • How do you use science every day? What “everyday science” do you experience in your home, backyard, and neighborhood?

  • What do you love about the Sciencenter? What is your favorite Sciencenter memory? Show us what happens inside the Sciencenter (examples: exhibit experiences, animal encounters, hands-on science programs, learning through play).

“The Sciencenter’s mission statement is to connect a community of curious, confident, critical thinkers,” Testa said.

The idea for the murals outside the center was inspired by the surrounding neighbors, and the project was a way to get many different people involved.

“One of the goals of the project was to build a better relationship between the Sciencenter and the neighborhood,” Thomas said. “Traditionally that side of the building was the back entrance and the front faces a parking lot on the other side of the building. But now they’ve decided they want the public to know both entrances are great - especially the community that lives right across the street.”

Art + Activism

Thomas said Ithaca Murals was inspired by the work of community member Gino Bush, who worked to make a reality of high school students' idea to rename a street to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Ithaca Murals began with the inspiration of organizing work that shifts our cultural cityscape to influence our community identity. Thomas explains that the project—as well as all other Ithaca murals, are a reflection of highlighting justice and activism in the community.

“This is a symbol of the kind of justice that we want to see in our community,” Thomas said.

The organizations connected with TC Action to incorporate the work of local elementary students in Ithaca.


Thomas said Sciencenter and Ithaca Murals announced that they were looking for these mini murals to go on this fence, and received 65 proposals.

“Community members juried them, staff, people who came to the Sciencenter,” he said. “We also had a great day in the park where people voted and we tallied those up and found our top winners, and that’s who's on the fence now.”

The art ranges from abstract to realistic displays of social justice—three of the panels were even painted by local elementary students. The project was a symbol of the relationship between advocating for children’s education and Ithaca’s passion for art.

“Community means everything to the Sciencenter,” Testa said.

“If you talk to anybody in Ithaca, they have a story about what they built at the Sciencenter,” Testa said. “I think it’s a reflection of its community.”

The street outside of Sciencenter was filled with smiling faces, oo-ing and ahh-ing at the revealed art panels and happy to see the collaboration’s finished product.

“Tell people about it, and come out and see it,” Testa said. “We are driven by our visitors and the colleges are really huge contributors to our community and we want to see you there.”

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