About the Public Art Archive

The Public Art Archive™ (PAA™) is a totally free, continually growing, online and mobile database of completed public artworks. Its purpose is to:

Gather documentation about public artworks into one central repository.

Support the standardization and adoption of best practices in cataloging public art.

Unite records from public art organizations and artists into one comprehensive resource.

Raise awareness about the value of public art and advocates for public artists.

Help make it possible for stakeholders to advance the professionalism of public artists and practitioners in allied fields.

The Public Art Archive is unlike any other resource of its kind.

The Archive is free to contribute to and interact with from your desktop, tablet or mobile device. Managed by a team of curators, public art administrators, information specialists, web developers, graphic designers, and arts advocates, PAA is supported by a 40-year old nonprofit arts service organization, WESTAF. Copyright holders retain their rights for any data and media that the Archive displays. WESTAF retains copyright over the compilation that is the Public Art Archive™ service. The Archive is built on a standardized and highly rigorous metadata structure and controlled taxonomies to describe artworks in a consistent manner. Providing accurate documentation is a main goal of this database. Integrated with Google Maps, PAA supports mapping features for virtual or on foot exploration. The database is searchable with filters that aid in research and education.

What is Public Art?

While there are many existing definitions of public art, the following guidelines, from The Practice of Public Art present the standard definition that the Public Art Archive uses to determine if the artwork fits the criteria.

Public art is art outside of museums and galleries and must fit within at least one of the following categories:

in public: in a place accessible or visible to the public

public interest: concerned with or affecting the community or individuals

public place: maintained for or used by the community or individuals

publicly funded: paid for by the public

When an artwork’s eligibility for inclusion in the Archive is unclear, final determination will be made by the Public Art Archive staff.

For more information, reference: Cameron Cartiere and Shelly Willis, ed. The Practice of Public Art. Routledge, 2008, p.15

Find Public Art on Any Device

Find public art near you on the go with Locate Public Art. Take a virtual tour, learn more about the artwork you see every day, and experience public art while you’re on the move, for free! The Locate Public Art tool is free to use. No download is required.

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