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What is public art

What is public art?

Public art is art created or designed for, and built or displayed in public space. It is also a term for any work of art bought with public funds.

Public art can be stonework, architecture, sculptures or painting, installations or performances; in short, any type of art can be public if located in a community space and accessible to all.

In Calgary, public art is funded by your tax investment.

As old as human history

Public art is as old humanity itself.

The Great Sphinx of Gyza was created 4,500 years ago and England’s Stonehenge is over 5 millennia old. Cave paintings in Indonesia date back over 35,000 years.

Art is a creative expression of our human experience, one that has changed and adapted over time.



A reflection of our society

Art plays a crucial role in the development of modern, vibrant cities. Public art enhances our city's cultural capital and shapes our cultural identity.

Public art helps build community, and creates opportunities to engage with our public spaces.


Good for Calgary

Public art in Calgary returns on public investment in many ways:

  • is a valuable part of our public history and evolving culture as Calgarians.
  • it reflects and reveals who we are and what we want our communities to be.
  • it makes our city a home and gives us style.
  • gives everyone the ability to experience art in their daily life, outside of museums.
  • encourages a sense of shared ownership and pride, since many public artworks are created with community collaboration.
  • contributes to Calgary’s active and dynamic cultural scene.
  • transforms our playgrounds, train stations, traffic circles, hospitals, water treatment facilities, airports and parks into more vibrant places.
  • challenges, delights, educates and illuminates.
  • creates spaces to meet, talk, and build community.
Public art enlivens a city for those who live here and those who visit. Independent citizen research 2015



Good for Calgarians

Public art brings awareness of the spaces we move through, it transforms landscapes and adds texture and interest, it can express community values and has the power to shape Calgary’s image.

Calgary’s public art is free to enjoy. There are no tickets, you don’t have to dress up– or even plan for it. You can view it by yourself or with others.

Calgary’s public art is for every Calgarian.

Public art around Calgary

Public art around the world