This story is proudly presented by Downtown Durham, Inc– our partner in exploring the Bull City. When you’re hosting out-of-town guests, snag weekend itinerary inspiration here.
We walk past them every day, but how often do we stop and actually enjoy some of the street art around Durham? There’s some fantastic murals and public art that can truly brighten your day. A few are even tucked away so you have to do some searching- make it a scavenger hunt! Grab your walking shoes, learn some seriously cool stuff about Durham, and get a few Instagram-worthy shots to show off.
The following is a hefty guide to where you can find more than 20 murals around Downtown Durham and the best route to take to see them all.
Did I miss your favorite mural? Email us here!
All the Possibilities
Location: Durham Arts Council at 120 Morris Street
Artist: Vernon Pratt
The Durham Arts Council, with the support of a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council, issued a call to commission an exterior piece of public art for the courtyard of the Durham Arts Council. Visitors are invited to explore Pratt’s stone, geometric installation.
We Must Remember and Continue to Tell
Location: 120 Morris St. Durham
Artists: Brenda Miller Holmes
We love the people and events that this mural celebrates. Miller Holmes and Speller began the design process by enlisting the support of 30 community members and engaging each in a series of lectures and educational workshops revolving around Durham’s civil rights history. They also shared memories, photographs, newspaper clippings, drawings, and other interesting materials in order to better identify local histories that were of interest to the community. After this preparatory work, each participant provided input on the color scheme, composition, and other creative aspects that eventually contributed to the overall effectiveness of the mural’s design.
Durham Convention Center Garage Door Murals
Location: 201 Foster Street, Durham
Artists: Cornelio Campos and Cecelia Lueza Murals
In partnership with the North Carolina Museum of Art, the City of Durham, and the Durham Convention Center, Cornelio Campos and Cecelia Lueza completed these stunning pieces. They’re inspired by the works of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, respectively.
Ninth Street Bakery
Location: 136 E Chapel Hill St, Durham
Artist: Scott Nurkin
This mural really brightens up the bakery! A nod to their organic flour is that milled locally at Lindley Mills in Graham, NC. Their flour is milled from whole grain and used within about two weeks!
Wall of Hope
Location: 136 East Chapel Hill Street
Artist: Andria Linn
This mural was installed in 2008 as a fundraiser for Threshold Clubhouse, a local group that helps adults in Durham with severe mental illness stay out of the hospital, succeed at work, advance their education, and reach their goals. The mural is a celebration of life and sends a message of community empowerment. The connected chain of individuals depicted represents themes of togetherness and support, while the open hands and doves portray love and friendship.
Durham in Continuum
Location: 110 E. Corcoran Street
Artist: Olalekan “LEk” Jeyifous
A citizen-led committee selected LEk to create the first piece of public art for Durham’s SmART Initiative. He was tasked with creating a banner for the Corcoran Street Garage that would symbolically and literally link the three main districts of downtown Durham: American Tobacco, City Center, and Central Park.
Throughout the project, LEk consulted Durhamites at Hillside High School, The Pauli Murray House, the Nasher Museum’s teen art program, and a senior living center for feedback. The conversations he had at each community engagement informed the look, feel, and symbolism in the final mural.
Along the way: Snapping!, Crackling!, and Popping! Crosswalks
Artist: Mary Carter Taub
Locations: American Tobacco Campus at Blackwell St. and Vivian St., connecting the Durham Armory to the Durham Marriott City Center on Foster Street, and at Durham Central Park crossing on Foster Street.
Triangle artist Mary Carter Taub designed the crosswalks after being chosen from 27 applicants.
“The pedestrian crosswalks are a freewheeling riff loosely inspired by Memphis design, a blend of Art Deco and Pop art, blending geometric shapes found in downtown Durham’s local Art Deco architecture with an ’80s palette bursting with color,” said Taub in a statement released by the Durham SmART Vision Plan. “The crosswalks are titled Snapping!, Crackling!, and Popping! inspired by the Rice Krispies cereal characters Snap, Crackle and Pop.”
Location: 210 W Pettigrew St. Durham (Side of Burt’s Bees building)
Artist: Matthew Willey
This buzzing mural is part of the Good of the Hive Initiative They’re painting 50,000 honey bees across America to celebrate their awesomeness and raise awareness about their struggle. Honey bees are an important part of our world!
Location: 108 E. Main St. Durham
Artist: Michael Brown
This mural is called ‘Celebrate’. I’d love to think it’s celebrating this awesome city we live in and all of you!
Here Comes the Sun
Location: Corner of E Main St and N Church St, downtown Durham
Artist: Karen Perkins
Originally painted in the 1970s and restored in the 90s. It sure adds some sunshine to your day! The design for the mural Here Comes the Sun resulted from a student art competition in 1975 sponsored by the Downtown Revitalization Foundation, the Durham Arts Council, the Council for Creative Art in Public Schools, and the city and county schools of Durham. Of the thirty student submissions from Durham, Hillside, and Jordan High Schools, fifteen-year-old Karen Stern’s design came in first place. Stern remembers her art teacher urging her to participate, calling her “on the fly to draw something” for Jordan High School.
Location: 101 City Hall Plaza
Artist: Frank Kreacic
Inspired by many facets of the City, Frank Kreacic draws on history, citizenry, and progress in the fabrication of his 3D tribute to the spirit and future of Durham. Based on the Durham City Flag, the three areas of color—Red, Yellow, and Blue—are placed similarly across the three panels. Kreacic represents the city’s early beginnings by the old map and wheel of a train in the first panel. The train engineer on the center panel symbolizes the people of Durham, and the right panel, surrounded by the city’s streets, holds the head and horns of the bull. Kreacic’s piece speaks to the tenacity and creativity of the Bull City. The paintings can be enjoyed without 3-D glasses, but those who want to see the full effect can borrow the glasses from the City Hall lobby.
Grab Life by the Horns
Location: 120 W. Parrish St, Durham, NC
Artist: Victor Knight
This mural is tucked away on Alley 26 off Parrish Street. It’s a giant two-story tall bull! What’s more Durham than that? This courtyard is locked so you’ll have to sneak a picture through the gates, but it’s definitely worth the trip!
Location: 101 West Parrish Street at the corner of Orange Street and Mangum Street
Artist: Robert Winkler
This public art sculpture was part of the Bull City Sculpture Show.
Major the Bull
Location: City Center Plaza at the corner of 100 Market Street and 201 Foster Street
Artists: Michael Waller and Leah Foushee
Major was cast in bronze and created from start to finish in Durham at Liberty Arts, a Studio and Foundry dedicated to enriching our communities with arts experiences that inspire, empower, educate, and entertain. The sculpture and plaza were gifted through a grant by The Central Carolina Bank to the citizens of Durham.
Location: West side of City Center Plaza at 100 Market Street
Artist: Al Frega
The Chalice was donated to the City by Downtown Durham, Inc. as a tribute to the organization’s founder and former CEO, Bill Kalkhof. The sculpture symbolizes the rebirth of downtown Durham. The base consists of three legs made from heavy steel components collected from the “relics” of industry past; trolley rail, piping, beams, water tower legs, etc. The metalwork and stem at the base are meant to resemble the city skyline.
Pursuit of Happiness
Location: Durham Convention Center Plaza at 301 West Morgan Street
Artist: Charlie Brouwer
The Pursuit of Happiness was part of the inaugural 2014 Bull City Sculpture Show, hosted by Liberty Arts. Artist Charlie Brouwer created the piece to convey the importance of living in the moment. The sculpture is made of locust wood, one of the hardest and most weather-resistant woods in the world. After the show, a private resident who enjoyed seeing the sculpture purchased the piece and donated it to the City. The piece remains in its original location in Convention Center Plaza.
Location: 218 West Morgan Street
Artist: Odili Donald Odita
Artist Odili Donald Odita represents Durham’s “melting pot of sorts” identity in this abstract, colorful mural. Time Bridge is one of two wall paintings commissioned by the Nasher Museum of Art in celebration of it’s ten-year anniversary.
Pauli Murray from the Face Up
Location: 313 Foster St. Durham
Artist: Brett Cook
Pauli Murray from the Face Up: Telling Stories of Community Life Project. Pauli Murray championed the fight for gender equality, assisted in desegregating schools, and was literally a saint. She once said, “What is often called exceptional ability is nothing more than persistent endeavor”. A daily reminder for us to never give up. She truly was the best of the Bull City.
Liberty Warehouse Mural
Location: 400 W Corporation St, Durham
Artist: Darius Quarles
This forty-five-foot mural is located on the site of the original Liberty Warehouse, now reconstructed and dubbed Liberty Warehouse Apartments. Built in two sections in 1938 and 1948, Liberty Warehouse was the last remaining tobacco auction warehouse in Durham. The mural is a history of Durham told through tobacco. The first image that appears looking left to right or walking north to south is of someone tending a row of tobacco in a garden. Quarles noted that he had learned through his research that tobacco was grown in public and private spaces in Durham, including immediately along both Mangum and Main Streets. (Source: muraldurham.com)
Location: 401 W. Geer St. Durham
Artist: Josh McBride
Home to the Mothership, this is one of the most colorful and unique murals in all of Durham!
Two Way Bridges
Location: 800 W. Main St. Durham
Artists: Duke students and visiting artists
This mural is called Two Way Bridges or ‘Puentes de Doble Via’. Part of the larger Two Way Bridges project that celebrates the link between Duke University and Latino communities. They use collaborative art and bidirectional learning to connect and enrich both the communities! Durham at it’s finest.
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