"Simply put public art is art in public spaces. The term 'public art' may conjure images of historic bronze statues of a soldier on horseback in a park. Today, public art can take a wide range of forms, sizes, and scales—and can be temporary or permanent. It often interprets the history of the place, its people, and perhaps addresses a social or environmental issue. Public art can include murals, sculpture, memorials, integrated architectural or landscape architectural work, community art, digital new media, and even performances and festivals!" - American for the Arts
In Washington, DC, public art and artists often compete with the downtown monuments and Smithsonian museums for attention and placement. Now in recent years, dynamic and beautiful works of public art have brought focus to and honored the many communities that make up Washington, DC.
This Public Art Tour, curated by the DC Commission for the Arts & Humanities (CAH), is intended to spotlight a few classic and recent public art projects in the Shaw and Logan Circle neighborhoods. This tour provides a glimpse into the background of a variety of different types of public art and the stories told and honored in the works. While many of the murals and public works in DC are related to the surrounding neighborhood or community, certain memorials or murals exist independently. They may give clues to their origin through an inscription, a plaque, or a name, but it often takes a tour or a quick Google search to figure out their history.
Engaging with the art around you is a great way to experience Washington, DC. Since its founding in 1790, DC has accumulated various forms of public art: a collection that reflects both the historical experiences of those in the past and the efforts of modern individuals to promote equality, representation, and joy through artistic expression.
Learn about the artists and programs supported by CAH’s Public Art Department in this 13-stop tour.
See even more art at the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities' online Art Bank: https://dcarts.emuseum.com/groups/art-bank-collection/results