You don’t have to plan a day at a museum to see beautiful art —chances are that you can find it outdoors. Public art, or art that’s created to be enjoyed by the general public, can be found in metropolitan areas, small towns and even isolated areas off the beaten path. They range from towering murals that provide social commentary, sculptures that seem to defy physics and peaceful fountains.
7 Public Art Works and Where to Find Them
Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis, Missouri
Laumeier Sculpture Park is one of the first and largest dedicated sculpture parks in the country. Laumeier presents 60 works of large-scale outdoor sculptures in a 105-acre park located in the heart of St. Louis County. Laumeier is an internationally recognized, nonprofit arts organization that is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. It serves 300,000 visitors each year and is free.
Cloud Gate in Chicago, Illinois
Perhaps the most famous landmark in Chicago, Cloud Gate, simply called “the bean,” is located in Millenium Park and is one of the city’s most photographed attractions. This sculpture, which is the work of Sir Anish Kapoor, is made from stainless steel and reportedly weighs 110 tons.
Mosaic Tiled Stairs in San Francisco, California
San Francisco is known for its hilly terrain. To make it easier for pedestrians to navigate, staircases have been put up around the city. Where most people saw a convenient way to get across town, a handful of artists saw an opportunity to transform the mundane into something beautiful. Artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher collaborated on several staircases, including the Hidden Garden Steps on 16th Avenue and Flights of the Fancy Steps at Innes Avenue and Arelious Walker Street. Other works include the Tompkins Stairway by architect Andre Rothblatt and Athens Avalon Greenspace.
Metalmorphosis in Charlotte, North Carolina
Situated in the 200-acre Whitehall Technology Park, Metalmorphosis is an intriguing mirrored stainless steel sculpture of a human head. This piece was created by Czech artist David Cerny and is made of 40 layers, seven of which can rotate individually.
Invasive Species in Reedsburg, Wisconsin
An abandoned Wisconsin farmhouse provides the backdrop for Invasive Species, a piece by artist Isabelle Garbani. This piece is created from over 5,000 plastic bags, which were crocheted into intrusive kudzu leaves. The piece conveys how plastics have encroached on and taken over our everyday lives.
World’s Largest Rocking Chair in Casey, Ilinois
World’s Largest Rocking Chair is a towering sculpture that was created by Jim Bolin, the mind behind the tiny town of Casey’s “Big Things, Small Town” campaign. The chair is over 56 feet tall and weighs about 46,000 pounds. It’s one of a dozen “World’s Largest” objects in the city. Other famous objects include World’s Largest Key, World’s Largest Pitchfork and World’s Largest Teeter Totter.
Social Pool in California
Social Pool in California is perhaps one of the most intriguing public art displays because unlike most displays that are meant to be seen by everyone, this one was meant to be enjoyed only by those willing to work for it. The pool is open to anyone, but to visit it, visitors were to contact the MAK Center for Art and Architecture to get the GPS coordinates and a key to open the cover. Its artist, Alfredo Barsuglia, said that it was intended to point out the absurdity of a luxury such as a swimming pool in an area that sees very little rain.
Whether you have the opportunity to see these public works in person or from the comfort of your couch, you’re sure to appreciate the inspiration and craftsmanship that went into them.