Mapping every single work of public art in D.C. would mean going through a list of several hundred sculptures and murals. Nearly every government building has some sort of accompanying sculpture, many metro stations have commissioned paintings and then there are all of the pieces in the Hirshhorn and National Gallery of Art sculpture galleries. So this is a list of some of the most iconic and unique works of public art. Did we leave out your favorite? Tell us at our tipline.Read More
Mapping Twelve Stellar Examples of D.C.'s Public Art
1. "Vivace" at Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Neighborhood Library
This sculpture, "Vivace," by Craig Kraft has become synonymous with the Shaw region. Sitting in front of the library and across from the 7th Street metro exit, the neon sculpture is impressive during the day, but even more so at night. Photo by Elvert Barnes.
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2. "Brushstroke" at Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
As noted, there is an entire area outside the Hirshhorn dedicated to sculptures. However, this neon yellow aluminum Roy Lichtenstein sculpture in front is the most visible. Photo by Flickr user yamori99.
3. Chinatown Arch
Washington, DC 20004
There's a reason that so many take selfies and family photos in front of this Friendship Arch outside the Chinatown metro station. The gate by Alfred H. Liu is undeniably beautiful and impressive. Photo by Flickr user OZinOH.
4. Mural at Ben's Chili Bowl
Curbed has recently highlighted Aniekan Udofia for his work on a mural in the "Open Your World" series, but this mural of the four most beloved and famous patrons to Ben's Chili Bowl (Bill Cosby, Barack Obama, Chuck Brown and Donnie Simpson) may be his most famous within the city. Photo by Flickr user thisisbossi.
5. Brookland-CUA Metro Station
Washington, DC 20017
While perhaps not "public art" in the sense of commissioned works of sculpture or paintings, this metro stop is the epicenter of Red Line graffiti. In addition to colorful tributes to fallen football player Sean Taylor and Michael Jackson are fun cartoonish works of art and artfully done tags. Photo by Tiffany Bridge.
6. The Big Chair
Washington, DC 20020
There are a few Big Chairs in the city but this one in Anacostia (dedicated to Curtis Companies in 2006) is the largest and the most famous. Photo by Elvert Barnes.
7. Hopscotch Bridge
Washington, DC 20002
This H Street bridge between Northeast and Northwest is colored by these joyful tile figures known as the Hopscotch kids. Photo by Victoria Pickering.
8. "River Spirits of the Anacostia" at Anacostia Metro Station
Brookland may have the best illegal art, but of the commissioned art pieces for metro stations, this one by Martha Jackson-Jarvis at the Anacostia station is one of the brightest and boldest. Photo by Elvert Barnes.
9. "Columbia Heights Community Mural" at Mary and Daniel Loughran Clubhouse
Washington, DC 20009
10. "Keep Driving On" at Mama Ayesha's
This mural by Karlisima on the facade of Mama Ayesha's is unmissable if one is headed to Adam's Morgan from the Woodley Park metro. The painting of every president from Eisenhower to Obama (with a woman that's presumably Mama Ayesha in the middle) looks like the city's largest postcard. Photo by
11. "From Edgewood to the Edge of the World" behind Rhode Island Avenue Shopping Center
This extraordinarily colorful 700 foot long mural that faces the Red Line from behind the Edgewood shopping center has long been a bright spot in a neighborhood that has plenty of overgrown grass and blighted buildings. Photo by David Gaines.
12. Bartholdi Fountain at Bartholdi Park
Washington, DC 20002
Did you know that D.C. had this fountain behind the Botanic Garden, sculpted by the same man responsible for the Statue of Liberty? Did you know it was the first nighttime monument in D.C.? Now you do.