Photo credit: Spencer Finlay | Flickr
Vancouver Public Art Mini-Guide
When the skies clear and you’re looking for an adventure, there’s no better way to take in some Vancouver culture (and get to know the city in the process) than by scouting out public art scattered around town. Ranging from surprising to poetic and, occasionally, baffling, around 350 outdoor art works can be found in parks, transit shelters and even on random street corners. Follow these tips, and keep your eyes peeled.
See the Icons
Vancouver’s most famous public artworks have become major sightseeing destinations in themselves. Here are just a few of the must-see stops for your list.
The Vancouver Biennale is focused on bring great works to public spaces. While each edition of the Biennale includes performances, events, new media and a cinema component, the impressive public sculptures by internationally renowned artists installed around the city garner much of the attention, turning Vancouver into an open-air museum. The most recent edition of the Vancouver Biennale was held from 2014 to 2016, and many of the sculptures can still be seen around the city. Visit their website for a current list of artworks.
At the conclusion of each Vancouver Biennale, a number of these public art works are donated, leaving Vancouver with a legacy of stunning sculptures dotted around the city. So far, the Vancouver Biennale has facilitated the acquisition of some sculptures that have become landmarks in their own right, including:
Vancouver Mural Festival
Launched in 2016, the Vancouver Mural Festival is an annual summer arts event held over a six-week period, from late June to mid-August. The murals, all of which are in the East Vancouver neighbourhoods of Mt Pleasant and False Creek Flats, at the work of a mix of artists, from world-renowned muralists with a cult following through to local artists turning their hand to a large, outdoor canvas for the first time.
The works adorn the public-facing areas of buildings, retaining walls, shopfronts and warehouses. Each year approximately 50 new murals are debuted, and both organized and self-guided walking tours are encouraged. However, even if you miss the festival, tours of the murals are offered every Saturday throughout the year – visit the festival’s website for details.
My mural copilot, @wizardsandunicorns, got this snap of me working on the last day of our mural. The #makerwrap project to kick off @vanmuralfest is done! What an excellent experience, and the murals are even better. Come see for yourself down at hawks and cordova, you won't miss it.
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First shot of the completed mural with @fourhundredml , gonna have detail shots in the upcoming days. Extremely grateful to @drewstuff and @vanmuralfest team for getting me involved in making our city beautiful. 🙌🙌🙌 #mural #spraypaint #streetart #painting
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Read More and Find Out What’s New
The City of Vancouver has a constantly growing and changing public-art program. Get a map of the latest commissions and installments, search public art works and find neighbourhood information on the City of Vancouver’s Public Art website. The City also has brochures featuring self-guided tours of certain areas of Vancouver, including the Burrard Corridor (slicing through the downtown peninsula), the Downtown Waterfront (around Canada Place), and Yaletown/False Creek.
Go by Bike
If you have an afternoon or a full day, try pedaling to the city’s bike-themed public art, especially the pieces located along the seawall. You’ll see mosaics and murals, light posts and benches. And cycling the city is a great way to experience Vancouver’s avid outdoors scene to boot.