Public Art Program
The City of Palo Alto Public Art Program is committed to contributing to the intellectual, emotional, and creative life of the Palo Alto community by creating engaging art experiences and dynamic public spaces for Palo Alto residents and visitors. The Program operates in accordance with Chapter 2.26 of Palo Alto Municipal Code to provide opportunities for the placement of permanent and temporary site-specific public art projects in municipal projects across Palo Alto. Additionally, the Program oversees the implementation of the Ordinance requirement to incorporate public art in private development projects. The Public Art Commission (PAC) reviews and advises the Public Art Program on selection, placement, and care of public art throughout the City of Palo Alto.
Currently on Display
Baylands Vignette by Mary Lucking installed on the Highway 101 Pedestrian / Bike Bridge
Inspired by the wetlands and the many creatures that live below, Mary Lucking designed her artwork for the overlook on the Baylands side of the bike and pedestrian bridge. She created grass themed custom railing and three sculptures for the overlook area that double as creative seating. The cast aluminum pieces have a brushed finish and sculpted textured grasses and creatures that will make them visually engaging and interesting to touch.
Baylands Vignette, 2021 by Mary Lucking
Sway by Charles Sowers installed at the new Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo (JMZ)
Swinging back and forth in a slow graceful motion, a group of four 40-foot tall, counterbalanced pendulums extend high above the roofline through an opening in the roof of the JMZ. Graceful yet whimsical, the pattern of motion is ever-changing as the pendulums are activated differently by visitors below who push and ride them, and the wind capturing the flags above. Enjoy interacting with Sway during Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo's opening hours.
Sway by Charles Sowers, 2021. Installed at the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo
Explore Our Collection with Mapme
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ArtLift Microgrant Program
The ArtLift Microgrant Program has been available to artists and creatives with the goal of helping the community find connection and joy through the arts and creative outlets. Temporary art projects and experiences, funded through ArtLift Microgrants, encourage play, belonging, community participation, and promote shared experiences in and around Palo Alto, while fostering safe and creative ways to remain engaged in the arts, reconnect with each other, and come together as a resilient community.
ArtLift Projects in 2022
ArtLift Projects in 2021
The Palo Alto Public Art Program promotes the highest caliber of artwork, commissioning memorable public artworks and experiences that stimulate discussion and thoughtful reflection, celebrating Palo Alto’s character and enhancing civic pride and sense of place.
Public art reflects Palo Alto’s people, diverse neighborhoods, the innovative and global character of its businesses and academic institutions, and the beauty of its natural environment.
About the Collection
The City collection of public art is comprised of approximately 100 permanently sited works and over 200 portable works of art in a diverse range of media. All works are commissioned and acquired through a public process. The portable collection features works by artists who have lived, worked, exhibited in, or been inspired by Palo Alto. The artworks are exhibited throughout City facilities and accessible to the public on a daily basis. From the land art in the Baylands to the more figurative works, the collection of permanently sited and integrated artworks reflects the diverse interests and populations of Palo Alto. It includes emerging talent as well as well established, world-renowned artists such as Nathan Oliveira, Fletcher Benton, Betty Gold, Gene Flores, and Bruce Beasley. Each artwork is selected with the particular site and audience in mind.
View the Public Art Collection Map to explore all locations of permanently-sited artworks in Palo Alto.
Collection Care & Maintenance Program
The Public Art Program is committed to ongoing maintenance and restoration projects for the permanent collection. Permanent and temporary artworks are regularly cleaned and receive preventative treatments to protect them from the elements. Some of the works receive more extensive conservation and repair treatments. If you notice vandalism or artworks in disrepair, please call the Public Art office immediately at (650) 329-2227. Thank you!
Help Us Preserve the Public Art Collection
Your tax-deductible donations to the Public Art Program are essential to support our ongoing maintenance and conservation efforts for the Palo Alto Public Art Collection. The collection is comprised of over 300 permanently sited and portable works of art by local and world-renowned artists. Together we can preserve the artworks for future generations. Thank you!