Seattle Office of Arts & Culture

Seattle Office of Arts & Culture

The City of Seattle's Office of Arts & Culture manages and maintains the public art collection for the city.

1% for Art Program

Seattle is a center for innovation and creativity

Stroll through downtown and you will see proof in the public art. Located on plazas and sidewalks and in parks and buildings, public art enriches Seattle's urban landscape. Walk through a park and ponder monumental granite slabs set against a dramatic bay-front backdrop. Stand on a street corner and delight in the whimsy of a giant umbrella spinning in the wind. Glance overhead and see a burst of vibrant color on a footbridge. Ride an escalator at the Central Library and hear whispers emanating from a video sculpture.

We invite you to chart your own course through the city keeping an eye out for art in unexpected places. Art gives shape to Seattle's urban fabric. Since 1973, Seattle has proudly supported this endeavor with its 1% for Art program. Venture into Seattle's many neighborhoods and find other engaging works of art. The city's collection includes nearly 400 permanent public artworks. Enjoy your journey. We hope you are inspired, delighted and challenged along the way.

One of the first percent for art programs in the nation

Seattle was one of the first cities in the United States to adopt a percent-for-art ordinance in 1973. For more than 30 years, our public art program has been integrating artworks and the ideas of artists into a variety of public settings, advancing Seattle's reputation as a cultural center for innovation and creativity.

The program specifies that 1% of eligible city capital improvement project funds be set aside for the commission, purchase and installation of artworks in a variety of settings. By providing opportunities for individuals to encounter art in parks, libraries, community centers, on roadways, bridges and other public venues, we simultaneously enrich citizens' daily lives and give voice to artists.

The collection includes more than 380 permanently sited and integrated works and 2,800 portable works. Artworks are commissioned through a public process. Panels comprised of professional visual artists along with community and city representatives evaluate the artist applicants. The city stewards and maintains its artworks through an ongoing program of coordinated conservation activities, which include inspections, major restorative work and routine maintenance.

Portable Works Collection

The city's Portable Works Collection features more than 2,800 artworks in all media, representing hundreds of artists collected by the city since 1973. The collection includes sculpture, painting, mixed media, prints, photography and textiles. The artworks are exhibited primarily in public areas of municipal buildings. Using percent-for-art funds from city construction budgets, the portable collection includes the work of emerging and established artists.

The purpose of the Portable Works Collection is to increase public awareness of and support for the arts by displaying works in the working environment of public buildings. Here, the employees are able to experience a wide array of artistic and cultural expression.


In addition to the public art you'll encounter on the streets of Seattle, the city maintains two gallery spaces. The Seattle Municipal Tower Gallery (700 Fifth Ave., level 3 concourse) features quarterly exhibits showcasing works from the Portable Works Collection. In addition, we regularly sponsor exhibitions in the City Hall Gallery (600 Fourth Ave.), which feature artworks related to life in Seattle.


700 5th Avenue #1766, Seattle, WA 98121, USA