Outdoor artwork of carved, upright, bronze paddles at the Burke Museum in Seattle.
"Guests from the Great River" (2020) by Tony (naschio) Johnson and Adam McIsaac, at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, Seattle.
Eleven bronze paddles represent the arrival of a Chinookan canoe carrying cultural heroes of that region and the knowledge they embody. Located at the Burke Museum on the campus of the University of Washington, in Seattle. Click to learn more about this artwork on My Public Art Portal. Photo by ArtsWA. Part of Washington's State Art Collection.

Public Art

Art in Public Places is uniquely positioned to advance and support art and artists across Washington. Our goal is to build and care for a dynamic contemporary art collection that is accessible and valued. We seek impactful and lasting artworks that reflect Washington’s diverse communities.

Our Art in Public Places program (AIPP) purchases and cares for artworks in state buildings, colleges, universities, and schools throughout Washington. The State Art Collection includes nearly 5,000 artworks, located where people study, work, and live. The Collection includes a wide range of materials, sizes, and styles. It represents notable artists from Washington, the Pacific Northwest, and beyond. The public selects and owns the Collection.

Read the legislation that formed our program: RCW 43.46.090 | RCW 43.46.095

Read the Washington Administrative Code that guides our program: WAC 30-40

How do we acquire Public Art?

When Washington constructs a new building, we reserve one-half of one percent of the state’s cost for art. In partnership with local committees, we acquire artworks that are permanently sited in their buildings or campuses. Through a series of facilitated meetings, they select an artist from the Public Artist Roster and provide feedback and approval during design. In some cases ArtsWA staff and the committee may opt to purchase existing artworks with the help of our Curator Roster. With public schools, artwork funds are combined each biennium and eligible K-12 schools are invited to apply for a commissioned artwork.

Public Art Spotlight

Circle of Light at the Yakima SunDome

ArtsWA is working with an experienced team of architectural conservators to evaluate the artwork Circle of Light at the Yakima Valley SunDome. At 880 feet, Circle of Light is the State Art Collection’s largest artwork. This unique artwork is comprised of nearly 50,000 individual 3-inch diameter reflectors. Dick Elliott created this dynamic artwork in 1992. In the years since, it’s become an icon in the region and the Yakima sun and wind have taken their toll. Architectural Resources Group will complete the evaluation and develop and plan for repair by the end of October. ArtsWA will then try to secure funding to complete repairs in 2021.

Dick Elliott’s artwork Circle of Light illuminates the Yakima Valley SunDome. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Contact Us

If you have questions about the Art in Public Places program, please contact: Mike Sweney, AIPP Program Manager, at mike.sweney@arts.wa.gov or 360-228-4080.

Explore More of the State Art Collection: