Public Art Chicago App Makes Windy City an Art Lover’s Playground

Art Scene

Public Art Chicago App Makes Windy City an Art Lover’s Playground

Who doesn’t love an intriguing public art installation?

Public Art Chicago is turning America’s third largest city into an art lover’s playground, converting the “stumble upon” charm of public artwork into a virtual database of the Windy City’s endless offerings.

Led by executive director Ed McDevitt, the non-profit is preparing to release a mobile app that provides self-guided walking tours of Chicago’s outdoor art landscape. McDevitt and his team of ten volunteers spent four years cataloguing roughly 4,000 works in hopes of raising the city’s profile as the premier public art destination in the U.S. They also hope to make Chicago’s unique artwork accessible to the world via the web and mobile technology.

“If you accumulate all of this stuff and make the collection available, it makes Chicago a completely different kind of art destination,” McDevitt told the Chicago Reader.

The app will launch featuring two different tours covering roughly 30 installations, with ten additional tours coming in the following months. Each tour lasts about an hour and covers approximately two miles, the Chicago Reader says. According to Public Art Chicago’s website, the collection includes works owned by the City of Chicago’s Department of Public Art, Chicago Park District, Chicago Transit Authority, universities, corporations, condominiums, individuals and neighborhood communities, along with street murals, mosaics, and decorated facades.


The way it works is simple: open the app, choose a tour, and follow the GPS directions to each object; developing the app, on the other hand, was everything but. The Public Art Chicago team built the database from scratch and self-funding, compiling everything from photos to artist information and audio clips. They even developed filters that allow users to choose what type of artwork they want to see.

“The app is like a pocket guide or a Michelin guide book,” Joe Flowers, chief technical officer and IT entrepreneur, told the Chicago Reader.

Users will also be able to create their own tours and share them with friends, the organization’s website says.

While highlighting famous art installations and tourist attractions such as the Bean, the magic of Public Art Chicago is that it will map hidden gems that McDevitt says are “generally unknown to all but art aficionados and Chicago history buffs.”

It’s a beautiful thing when art meets technology. Chicago friends, keep an eye out for Public Art Chicago and let us know how it works.


Images Courtesy of Public Art Chicago