Public Art

  • Do Ho Suh, Cause and Effect, 2012, located at Western Washington University.
    Do Ho Suh, Cause and Effect, 2012, located at Western Washington University.

The Art in Public Places (AIPP) program facilitates the acquisition, placement, and stewardship of artwork in state-funded building projects throughout Washington. The Washington State Legislature established the AIPP program in 1974 to acquire artwork for K-12 public schools, colleges, universities, and state agencies, funded by ½ of 1 percent of the state’s portion of construction costs. Today, the State Art Collection includes more than 4,700 artworks that are sited where people study, work, and live.


All of the artworks acquired through the Art in Public Places program are viewed collectively as the State Art Collection. The State Art Collection, which represents more than 40 years of artwork acquisitions, is owned, sited, and selected by the public. The collection contains a variety of media and a diversity of contemporary artistic production from many of Washington’s notable artists, as well as from nationally and internationally recognized artists.

The Public Artist Roster is a registry of artists who are eligible for a public art commission through ArtsWA. Every 3 years, artists are selected for the roster through a competitive process. When a public art project is in its initial stages, a local art selection committee selects an artist from the roster, reviews artwork proposals, and makes the final artwork selection decision.

In some cases, a local art selection committee may choose to work with a professional curator from the Curator Roster to help acquire existing artworks. Through our established process, which is facilitated by an AIPP project manager, the curator works with the committee to set goals, identify sites, and select artworks for the State Art Collection.

Once the artwork is installed, it becomes part of the State Art Collection. Taking care of the artwork so that it lasts a long time is a high priority. As the State Art Collection ages, stewardship becomes ever more critical as we look to preserve the state’s investment, minimize maintenance needs, and optimize the public’s appreciation of this tremendous resource.


Public art enhances and enlivens public spaces. It can also serve as a great jumping-off point for active arts learning for K - 12 students. Our AIPP and Arts in Education program staff are collaborating to help make these connections. The outcome? A series of four, high quality, participatory arts lessons that are based on engaging works of public art situated around the state. See the four lessons.

*PHOTO: Do Ho Suh, Cause and Effect, 2012. Cast resin and stainless steel, 21 x 18 x 10 ft. Located at Western Washington University. Photo courtesy of Western Washington University, by Matthew Anderson. The artwork was recently recognized in the Public Art Network’s Year in Review, an annual award given to only 50 artworks nationally. The artwork is made up of thousands of cast figures perched upon each others’ shoulders, evoking a tornado of human power.

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