PAA Database

PAA is a free, continually growing, online and mobile database of completed public artworks. By uniting records from public art organizations and artists into one comprehensive resource, the Archive aims to raise awareness about the value of public art and help make it possible for stakeholders to advance the professionalism of public artists and practitioners in allied fields. Since the Archive’s inception in 2010, public art organizations and artists have submitted informational text, images, and additional multimedia files describing completed public artworks at no cost. 

In addition to searching for artwork on the site using various descriptors, the PAA can also be used to map and guide tours of public art in local communities. The device-responsive web application, Locate Public Art, can be accessed here:

  • Totally free, continually growing, online and mobile database of completed public artworks;
  • Free to contribute to and interact with from your desktop, tablet or mobile device;
  • Searchable with filters that aid in research and education.
  • Copyright holders retain their rights for any data and media that the Archive displays;
  • Built upon standardized vocabularies to describe artworks in a consistent manner;
  • Integrated to support mapping features for virtual or on foot exploration.

Dreaming Forward/Soñando by Alex Paul Loza. 2018. ArtsBuild Collection, Chattanooga, TN. Photo courtesy Alex Paul Loza.

Purpose of PAA

Make public art more public.

Developed with the mission of making public art more public, the Public Art Archive (PAA), a program sponsored by the 40-year old non-profit organization WESTAF, provides free and low-cost resources for the public art field. Built for artists, administrators, consultants, planners, educators, and researchers, audiences of all ages and backgrounds can engage with PAA’s services. 

  • Document public artworks across the globe;
  • Provide free access to information about public artworks in one central repository;
  • Develop resources to inform diverse audiences about the breadth and depth of what constitutes public art today;
  • Support best practices in cataloging public art;
  • Raise awareness about the significance of public art;
  • Showcase the variations of worktype, function, material, and subject matter;
  • Encourage sustained engagement with public art to support physical exploration;
  • Preserve the transforming history of public spaces so we can continue to learn from public art practice.

Dancing Chairs by James Schmidt. 2014. City of Hillsboro, OR Public Art. Photo courtesy of the collection.

Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility criteria is a key component to the Public Art Archive’s values-based mission and has promoted the program’s commitment to inclusiveness and equity. All public artworks, despite budget value or artist experience can be included in the Archive if they fit one of the following criteria:

  1. in a place accessible or visible to the public: in public
  2. concerned with or affecting the community or individuals: public interest
  3. maintained for or used by the community or individuals: public place
  4. paid for by the public: publicly funded

Note: While there are many existing definitions of public art, the following guidelines, from The Practice of Public Art, by Cameron Cartiere and Shelly Willis (Cartiere, Cameron and Shelly Willis, ed. The Practice of Public Art. Routledge, 2008, p.15) is the standard definition that PAA uses to determine if the artwork fits the criteria.

If the eligibility of a work of art is in question, contact the Public Art Archive team.