Public Art

cost: high
cost: high
workload: moderate
workload: moderate
time commitment: low
time commitment: low

Public art can take many forms, such as sculptures, murals, water installations, and interactive media. Public art shows that your community cares about supporting art and expression. It can come in many forms, and can be especially impactful if it involves community input and represents the history of the community in some way. Vacant lots can be an ideal space to present public art created by local artists.


1. Benchmarking: A good starting point for any public art installation is looking to see if something similar has been done before. If similar projects exist in the area, talk to the artist and neighbors to see if they were successful or not. This can also help understand the funding necessary for such a project.

2. Select Your Artist: It is important to consider if you will need to find or commission an artist for your public art project. First consider the budget. Do you have the funds to hire an artist and pay for their services?  Will you put out the budget first, then choose an artist, or allow the artist to set the budget? Will you need volunteers?  These are important questions to consider as your proceed.

3. Create a contract: This may be a necessary part of your public art project. Especially if the artist is being paid, a contract is needed for the artist that outlines all of the expectations for products, services, and responsibilities.

4. Provide Updates: It is important that, especially with larger projects, the work of art should include milestones for the owner to review. If the lot is City-owned, it may also require review from the City of Pittsburgh’s Art Commission. Go to the section on Art Commission for more information.

5. Maintain and conserve: If possible, consultation with a professional conservator during the proposal stage is very important for the life of the public art project. If a conservator is not sought, measures should be taken to ensure that the art is able to withstand weather and time.  Funds for damages should also be considered.


  • Creates an interesting visual for the neighborhood
  • Outlet for local artists
  • Can express cultural or historical ideas
  • Makes a place memorable
  • Community beautification

Suitability and Considerations

To do a Public Art project, the qualities of the vacant lot being used will have to be considered. Check out the site assessment page to see how different aspects of the site will affect how you can use the site.

Possible Materials

  • Materials for public art
  • Mulch
  • Lighting