Uncovering the Silver Spring Penguin Mural (Video)

It has been more than 10 years since the “penguin mural” was removed from its spot under the Silver Spring Metro Station, yet it’s still remembered by many.

In this MyMCMedia report, we took a look at where the mural is being stored and what’s next for the popular art piece.

Take a stroll through downtown Silver Spring and they’re hard to miss. Penguins, the black and white waddling birds known for their happy feet, have become an integral part of the busy urban area, seen on street signs and even taking over the Veterans Plaza Ice Rink.

“The penguin is the symbol of Silver Spring and the little kids just absolutely love it,” said Silver Spring Resident Carla Kijak. “My grandkids come and they ice skate with penguins and there’s a penguin on the corner over here, there’s penguins throughout the city,” she said.

But the story behind the penguin craze is hidden. Kept under wraps in a locked room at the Silver Spring Civic Building, the 100 foot, 25 panel mural designed by artist Sally Callmer, first brought penguins to the downtown area.

“The penguin mural really represents that joyfulness that is downtown Silver Spring,” said Reemberto Rodriguez, Director of the Silver Spring Regional Center.

Installed in the 1980’s, it was originally planned to be displayed only for a year in the underpass at the Silver Spring Metro, but the mural quickly became a part of the daily routine of commuters and was purchased by the Washington Transit Authority to be displayed permanently.

To the disappointment of many, the mural began to peel and was taken down to be refurbished almost 10 years ago.

“It was fabulous, it had the penguins on there like us going to work with the briefcases and everything and it was just fantastic but I was sad when they took it away,” Renee Hunter, who commutes to Silver Spring for work.

Through funds raised in a “pennies for penguins” campaign, the mural is now ready to be re-installed, but is awaiting the completion of the Silver Spring Transit Center.

“Absolutely they’re coming back. When ready we will re-install them back where they belong,” Rodriguez said. 

For those that walk through the area, the news of the mural’s return is much awaited.  

“I’ve seen the penguins in Silver Spring for a long time I mean you’ll see them all over town randomly and bringing them here really promotes the Silver Spring penguin and when we get them back under the metro it will look amazing,” said Nino Morelli, shift manager at the Silver Spring Ice Rink at Veterans Plaza.

“It just brings beauty and character to Silver Spring which has been growing over the years,” said  Cheryl Malone who used to commute through Silver Spring for her job. “Who doesn’t love a penguin?”

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Valerie Bonk

About Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk is a multimedia reporter and community engagement specialist with Montgomery Community Media (MCM).


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