Skip to main content
Public Art

Public ArtWhat Is_?
Public Art


26 Pages
145 x 210 mm
ISBN 9781907020551


Public Art is a broad term which refers to artworks in any Media created for and sited either temporarily or permanently in public places. Public places are generally associated with external spaces; however, artworks can be situated outside in private spaces, such as shopping malls and private housing developments, or inside in public spaces, such as publically-funded Art Museum and Galleries or hospitals and libraries. Consequently a definition of what constitutes public space is problematic.

Situating artworks in public spaces enables the artwork to engage with a broader public than an art museum or gallery; however, the context in which an artwork is seen can affect audience expectations and responses. The audience encounter with an artwork in an exterior space, such as a public park or beside a motorway, or in an interior space, such as a hospital corridor, may be fleeting and circumstantial. In contrast, the audience encounter with an artwork in an art museum or gallery involves a decision to enter into a space with the expectation of seeing the artwork.

Public Art involves an artist or artists creating artworks in response to a place. This may involve consideration of the practical issues of situating, performing or presenting an artwork in a public place, such as durability, security, safety, access and visibility. But it may also encompass more complex issues arising from the creation of an artwork informed by, and in response to, the specific conditions of a public place, such as its use, meaning or history. Public Art can take many forms and, in some cases, including Socially-engaged or Participatory Art initiatives, it may take no physical form at all, such as a conversation, a performance or an intervention. Public Art can use any medium and may be permanent, temporary or transient. Public Art can be many things: an aesthetic response to a place or context, a means of engaging audiences or local communities, an enhancement of the designed environment, a critique, a dialogue, a distraction or an ornamentation.

About the Project 
This IMMA programme is a great way to find out more about the concepts and terms used in contemporary art. It includes talks, booklets and web-based resources which you can explore below. The programme is presented in four series, three of which you can explore in the menu above.

About the Publisher
Irish Museum Of Modern Art (IMMA) is Ireland’s National Cultural Institution for Modern and Contemporary Art. Their diverse and ambitious programme comprises exhibitions, commissions and projects by leading Irish and international artists, as well as a rich engagement and learning programme which together provides audiences of all ages the opportunity to connect with contemporary art and unlock their creativity. IMMA is home to the National Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art, started in 1990 and now numbering over 3,500 artworks by Irish and international artists. This national resource available through exhibitions at IMMA and other venues nationally and internationally, engagement and learning programmes and digital resources.

Leave a Reply