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Preserve and Promote Your Public Art Collection with Public Art Archive

By October 16, 2017 March 20th, 2018 No Comments

Written by: Elysian Koglmeier on behalf of the Public Art Archive


Have You Seen My Public Art? © Kenny Be, 2013

Well managed digital collections have the power to educate, foster creative collaboration, generate new ways of thinking and enhance the experience of viewers.  By contributing content to the Public Art Archive’s digital repository, you are uncovering access for viewers across the globe. – Hannah Unsderfer, Digital Collections Librarian for Regis University and Data Curator for Public Art Archive  

Why digitize your public art collection?

  1. To preserve your collection: All practitioners have an obligation to protect assets for future generations. Digitizing your collection is one step to ensure that your public art is well cared for and properly maintained. You want to make sure you are protecting your monetary assets as well as the work that serves as a symbol of community identity and pride.
  2. To help inform our field: Public art continues to diversify and extend its reach into communities. Thus, it is important that we create a network of information that shares the incredible diverse projects across geographic borders.
  3. To make public art more public: Public artists and art agencies need to share their growing collections to draw funding, encourage engagement, boost tourism and disseminate information to wider audiences. Additionally, when works are online, the public has access to the information about the work, artist, the process, and more. People can plan visits to particular pieces; they can instantly learn about a work when they pass by it; and academics have the resources to perform research on the current public art landscape.
  4. To help your community make more strategic decisions: It is imperative that we inform our stakeholders on the opportunities available in public art. Those involved in civic and community planning must survey the breadth of work available so that they can commission work that is well suited for the community’s needs.
  5. To aggregate important information: Reviewing individualized collections and artist websites is challenging and time consuming. Aggregate data so it is easy to consume, analyze and disseminate.

What tool helps you digitize your public art collection?

The Public Art Archive (PAA), a program supported by the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) is a free digital database driven to make public art more public.


Public Art Archive’s current statistics, © Public Art Archive, 2017

At no cost, public artists and collection administrators can submit information and multimedia content such as interviews, videos, and walking tour maps. PAA has a robust  inventory over almost 12,000 artworks and over 30,000 images from close to 6,000 artists.

Each record is integrated with Google Maps so users can easily locate artwork on foot and those with PAA Mobile™ can access to the entire database on their smartphones.

The Collection Showcase feature is a cost efficient option for creating a customized webpage highlighting a specific collection. 


Administrators and artists, representing over 1,200 collections worldwide, have worked tirelessly to add their collections to the Public Art Archive. They have created a digital home for their community assets and are now able to increase the exposure to their collection.

The Public Art Archive team is driven to provide field-wide support to advance the professionalism of the public art field. Public Art Archive is proud to help those that are bringing public art to our public spaces.

There are some major developments happening at PAA, so get in touch or follow us on social media so you can keep up with the exiting news……!