This is a question we get a lot and public art can be so many things! Really! To quote Americans for the Arts, “it can take a wide range of forms, sizes, and scales—and can be temporary or permanent. Public art can include murals, sculpture, memorials, integrated architectural or landscape architectural work, community art, digital new media, and even performances and festivals.”

In a nut shell public art is something that is made by an artist and accessible to everyone and you usually don’t need to go through any doors or buy any tickets to experience it.


Public art can express community values, enhance our environment, transform a landscape, heighten our awareness, or question our assumptions. Placed in public sites, this art is there for everyone, a form of collective community expression. Public art is a reflection of how we see the world – the artist’s response to our time and place combined with our own sense of who we are. (Association of Public Art)

But don’t just take our word or the Association of Public Art’s word for it! There’s data too!

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Handy Public Art Identification Tool

To make it easier to identify public art when you come across something you suspect may be public art, we’ve created this handy identification tool for you. To use the tool, use this link that will give you a list of identifiers. Print out the checklist and carry it in your back pocket, fanny-pack, purse or shoe. When you come across a likely candidate, pull out the checklist and see if it meets the requirements.