Frequently Asked Questions

What does the Public Art Committee do?

The Public Art Committee is responsible for reviewing, advocating, and developing public art projects in the public spaces for the City of Missoula. It has developed a process to create, develop, and maintain public art as well as further public accessibility to the arts.

The Public Art Committee (PAC) is responsible for developing a collection of public art that is of the highest quality, that encompasses a broad aesthetic range reflecting the City and its citizens, improves the quality of life in the area, accessible to all individuals, and is a source of pride to all residents. The Public Art Committee works to develop public art projects and the associated collections that become an integral part of the fabric of the City of Missoula. These projects reflect a broad range of input and involvement by artists, art professionals and organizations, businesses and residents.

Who is on the committee?

The Public Art Committee consists of nine members serving four-year terms. Six members are appointed by the Mayor, two members appointed by the City Council and one member is a Missoula City Council representative. Members have expertise in the visual arts, arts administration, historical preservation, architecture, or have an affiliation with a local business association or public entity. Current members are:  Peter Lambros (Committee Chair), Kathi Olson (Committee Vice-Chair), Julie Armstrong (City Council Liaison), Taag Peterson, Kia Lizak, Douglas Olson, Cathay Smith, Helen Hallenbeck, and Courtney LeBlanc.

When was the Missoula Public Art Committee started?

The Missoula Public Art Committee was formed in 1985 by Mayor John Toole as a committee designated to review, advocate and develop public art projects in the public spaces for the city of Missoula. It was reaffirmed on December 23, 2002 as a standing city committee.  The City of Missoula Public Art Committee was the first “City” Public Art Committee in Montana.

What are the objectives of the Percent for Art Program?

  • Develop a public art program that is unique to Missoula.
  • Increase the understanding and enjoyment of public art by Missoula residents.
  • Invite public participation in the interaction with public spaces.
  • Provide unusual and challenging employment opportunities for artists
  • Encourage collaborations between artists and architects, and artists and engineers.
  • Support artist participation on design teams for planning public projects.
  • Encourage a variety of art forms: temporary and permanent, object and event, single or dispersed locals.
  • Spread commissions among a wide number or artists and strive for overall diversity in style, scale and intent.

What is the Percent for Art ordinance?

In December 2002, City Leaders passed an Ordinance establishing a Percent for Art program – a first for any city in Montana. The ordinance mandated the inclusion of artwork within certain city projects, set procedures to commission, select, and deaccession public art. The Ordinance required 1% of eligible construction costs of City capital improvement projects paid wholly or in part by the City of Missoula to construct or remodel any public or city building, structure, park or any portion thereof to be allocated for public art and provided a funding source for ongoing maintenance. In November 2015, the amount allocated to this public art program was increased to 1.5% .

I’m interested in Public Art.  Should I attend a PAC meeting?

YES!  As a member of the community, you are welcome to come to monthly meetings held on the third Tuesday of the month at 4:00PM in the City Council Building, 140 W. Pine. For more information, contact the Public Art Coordinator at (406) 541-0860.

For current information including PAC Agendas and Minutes, please visit the City of Missoula website.

How are public art projects funded?

Public Art projects are funded through the Percent for Art program, special project funds, grants, and private donations. The Committee does not receive any monies from the City of Missoula’s general fund, department budgets, licensing, or permitting fees.

How do I find out about Public Art Committee art calls?

Periodically the Public Art Committee seeks artists to design and construct artwork for public buildings and grounds. Go to the City of Missoula bids website or visit the Art Call page on this website. You can also sign up to receive future notifications when the city’s Public Art Committee is requesting proposals for public art pieces in Missoula.

How does the Public Art Committee decide who is eligible for art calls?

The Public Art Committee has three methods of determining eligibility:

  • Open Art Call: open to all artists in a specified area.
  • Limited Art Call: open to a limited number of artists who have been invited to participate based on their expertise in a desired area.
  • Direct Purchase/Commission: a specific individual invited to create artwork for a site based on their expertise in a desired area.

How does the Public Art Committee select artworks?

The Public Art Committee establishes a Selection Committee that includes representation from City Departments or public agencies (if applicable), donors (both public and private), neighborhood representatives (both business and residential), project architectural group (where applicable) and the Public Art Committee members.

What are the selection criteria for artwork?

The selection criteria changes with each project. In general, the Public Art Committee expects that artwork be of the highest quality in both concept and execution, while recognizing public safety and durability. The Committee encourages proposals that balance the artistic design in the artwork with the setting of the designated area. When developing proposals, artists typically consider specific themes, the design aesthetics of an associated building, the traffic flow and use of the building and/or site.

I have a business and would like to have some public art at my business location. Can the Public Art Committee provide guidance or funding?

The Public Art Committee enjoys providing guidance to the private sector wishing to develop a public art project. Although the Public Art Committee has no specific funds for special projects, the Committee has worked hand-in-hand with the private sector to develop “public-private partnership projects.”  These are collaborative projects where the PAC works hand-in-hand with the private entity in various ways to complete a public art project.

I have a public art idea – can the Public Art Committee help me?

The PAC suggests everyone start by exploring our website to review past and present projects.  Current projects may be perfect for your public art idea.  If not, the Committee invites anyone to present a project idea at its monthly meeting. The Committee may provide guidance in varying degrees or may vote to implement the project based on available resources.

I want to present a public art idea to the committee. What do I need to do?

If you are a private entity or business owner who simply wants advice on a public art concept, then feel free to come to a meeting with whatever kind of presentation you see fit. If you would only like to speak, that is adequate, although sometimes a visual can be helpful to understanding your project.

If this is an idea that you would like the PAC to take part in, it is best to come prepared with a proposal or formal presentation. How do you see the PAC becoming involved? The details should be fairly clear. Visit our Public Art How-To Guide for more information on presenting your own public art proposal to the committee.

What happened to the painted traffic signal boxes that were taken out downtown? Will they be replaced with new art?

Those traffic signal boxes were taken out due to a need to update the equipment that keeps the traffic signals working. The new equipment could not fit inside the old boxes, and thus, they had to be taken out and replaced. Those painted boxes are now property of the Montana Department of Transportation. The PAC is currently working to acquire them for display in other areas of town, but there is no guarantee that this will happen. The PAC has never had ownership of any of the traffic signal boxes, and thus, they can be removed at any time. There is also no guarantee that the art commissioned for the traffic signal boxes will always stay there or be preserved, and this is stipulated in every artist contract for the project.

It is likely that the new boxes will be opened up for art calls as well.

How does the Public Art Guide work, and how can I/my business be featured?

The Public Art Guide is funded entirely through advertising and the generosity of the Missoulian. The Missoulian puts together the guide for the PAC with the PAC's help and guidance. If you would like to purchase an ad or be featured in a Public Art Guide, simply contact Jacque Walawander at jacque.walawander@lee.net.