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Why Public Art Matters


Cities gain value through public art – cultural, social, and economic value. It reflects and reveals our society, adds meaning and uniqueness to our communities. Public art humanizes and invigorates public spaces; it seeks to create and inspire relationships and communication.

The City of Columbia’s Strategic Plan (2012-2015) establishes quality of life as a key value, stating that “history, arts and culture of our community significantly add to the overall livability of our community.” The vitality of a community is directly linked to the quality of its built and natural environments and to a positive community identity. Public art and design elements that define public space enhance the visual quality of the community by providing color and character. Ordinary places and objects are transformed into something extraordinary by the hand of an artist.

Public Art in Columbia

One Columbia for Arts and History is working to feature the City’s current public art and to bring even more to the community. This is being accomplished through several activities:

Public Art Directory

One Columbia worked in partnership with the Cultural Council of Richland & Lexington Counties to build a comprehensive online catalog of public art in Columbia. The directory includes photos, descriptions and maps of more than 200 pieces of public art currently found in Columbia.

Public Art Initiative

One Columbia has worked with city government and other partners to establish an organized and systematized process for defining, funding, acquiring, maintaining, and marketing public art throughout the City of Columbia. We have issued an ongoing call to artists to submit qualifications to be engaged to create public art throughout the Capital City.

Art in City Hall

One Columbia has partnered with the City of Columbia and several local galleries to open the Gallery at City Hall, which officially opened on September 5, 2013. The gallery is open to the public (at no charge) during regular City Hall hours (Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 5pm) as well as between 6-8pm during First Thursday on Main.

City Hall as Art

The City of Columbia has recently undertaken a restoration of City Hall. One Columbia participated in the restoration by organizing the framining of many historic photographs of Columbia and a series of portraits of the former Mayors of the city which are displayed on the second floor.

Temporary Public Art

As part of the overall strategy to celebrate arts and culture in the City of Columbia, One Columbia will organize various temporary public art projects.