Mission: To bring dynamic contemporary art to a broad audience in New York City and beyond.
About the organization: PAF was founded in 1977 by Doris C. Freedman (1928-81), a champion of public art who served as New York City's first director of cultural affairs and president of the Municipal Art Society of New York. In 1971, Freedman founded the Public Arts Council while serving as president of City Walls, Inc, and 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 nonprofit Public Art Fund, which, since its inception, has presented more than five hundred exhibitions and projects at sites across New York City's five boroughs, making it possible for artists to engage diverse audiences and redefine public art in the context of the changing nature of contemporary art.
Projects supported by the organization have included Messages to the Public (1982-90), which was presented on an 800-square-foot animated light board in Times Square and featured more than seventy artists, among them Guerrilla Girls, Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer, Richard Prince, Kiki Smith, and David Wojnarowicz; Anish Kapoor's Sky Mirror (2006); Olafur Eliasson's The New York City Waterfalls (2008); Sol LeWitt: Structures, 1965-2006 (2011); and Tatzu Nishi: Discovering Columbus (2012).
Current programs: PAF's current exhibitions include 50 Artists: Art on the Grid, a project conceived in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic and developed against the backdrop of nationwide demonstrations calling for racial justice. On view through September 20 on five hundred bus shelters and LinkNYC kiosks across the city, the works are united around themes such as healing and loss, community and isolation, intimacy and solitude, and the creation of a future that is more just, inclusive, and equitable. Also on view is Jean-Marie Appriou: The Horses in Central Park (through August 30) and the permanent exhibition Jeppe Hein, Sabine Hornig, Laura Owens, Sarah Sze: Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport.
The organization also offers a variety of public programs, including artist talks, guided exhibition tours, and picnics.
Website: Visitors to the Public Art Fund site can browse image galleries of current and past exhibitions, view videos from exhibitions and the organization's public programs, listen to podcast episodes, oand/r support the fund by making a donation.
Funding: The Public Art Fund is supported by individuals, corporations, and foundations, as well as government agencies including the New York State Council on the Arts.