As the leader in its field, Public Art Fund brings dynamic contemporary art to a broad audience in New York City and beyond by mounting ambitious free exhibitions of international scope and impact that offer the public powerful experiences with art and the urban environment.
Public Art Fund is a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization that relies on contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations to support the development and presentation of our temporary exhibitions and outreach programs.
Public Art Fund was founded in 1977 by Doris C. Freedman (1928-1981), a champion of public art who served as New York City’s first Director of Cultural Affairs, President of the Municipal Art Society of New York, and was a tireless supporter of New York City’s Percent for Art legislation. In 1971, she founded the Public Arts Council while at the same time serving as president of City Walls Inc. Under her leadership, both organizations developed programs to explore the potential for art to become an integral aspect of urban public spaces. In 1977, she merged the two to form the independent, non-profit Public Art Fund. Since its inception, Public Art Fund has presented more than five hundred artists’ exhibitions and projects at sites throughout New York City’s five boroughs, making it possible for artists to engage diverse audiences and, along the way, redefine public art in relation to the changing nature of contemporary art.
Early Public Art Fund projects include Messages to the Public (1982-1990), an exhibition series that ran on an 800-square foot animated light board in Times Square and featured more than 70 artists, among them Guerrilla Girls, Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer, Alfredo Jaar, Adrian Piper, and David Wojnarowicz. More recently, we have presented iconic exhibitions like Sol LeWitt: Structures, 1965-2006 (2011); Ai Weiwei: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors (2017), Tauba Auerbach: Flow Separation (2018), Pope.L: Conquest (2019), and have worked with dozens of emerging artists to realize new works that extend their practice into new realms.
Through Public Art Fund: Creative Partnerships, we also consult with leading cultural institutions, corporations, and civic organizations across the globe to bring strategic planning, curatorial, project management, and communications expertise to important public spaces. Recent collaborations have included Moynihan Train Hall and Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport.