public artwork

About Public Art

Inspiring a Positive Sense of Place


Toledo, Ohio has an impressive collection of public art, with large-scale sculptures, murals, and functional structures by noted artists from across the country. Many of these pieces were acquired through the pioneering 1977 ordinance that set aside one percent of Toledo's Capital Improvement Budget for the purchase, conservation, and public education of art.

The program is administered by The Arts Commission through its Art in Public Places Program, which acquires, conserves and restores the collection. This administration also includes the education of the community related to the understanding and enjoyment of public art.

Toledo was the first city in Ohio to adopt a One Percent for Art program. The 1977 ordinance served as a model for Ohio's Percent for Art program, administered by the Ohio Arts Council, which began in 1990.


Founded in 1959 as the City Culture Commission, The Arts Commission compiled the city’s first comprehensive local arts calendar beginning in 1960. By the end of the decade, the organization was brought under the City’s Division of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry to aid in public art investments at Crosby Gardens (now Toledo Botanical Gardens).

In 1977 significant legislation passed that cemented The Arts Commission’s role in the community with the founding of the City of Toledo’s One Percent for Art program. Overseen by The Arts Commission’s Art in Public Places Committee, the program allocates a portion of City funds for public art. Toledo’s One Percent for Art program was the first in Ohio, among the first in the nation, and has since served as the adopted model for other regional agencies. It continues to this day and features an impressive collection of public art with work from more than 40 local, national, and international artists installed in nearly every neighborhood in the city.

Toledo has an impressive collection of public art, with large-scale sculptures, murals, and functional structures by noted artists from across the country.

Conservation & Maintenance

The City of Toledo has charged The Arts Commission with the oversight of its One Percent for Art collection. The Arts Commission through its Art in Public Places (APP) Program maintains and conserves this group of more than 80 original public art works. The APP program utilizes highly skilled maintenance technicians and qualified fine art conservators to complete projects that range from routine washing and waxing to major conservation overhauls. The Arts Commission is proud to serve the City of Toledo in this way and works diligently to ensure the collection remains in the best possible condition.

Current Projects

Signal Box Wrap Project

The Arts Commission is seeking artwork for vinyl-wrapped signal boxes in an effort to aesthetically enhance the pedestrian experience. Signal box cabinets are found at every intersection that includes a traffic signal. These innocuous metal boxes provide a great opportunity to implement moments of artistic discovery. Applications may be submitted online by July 10.

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Lucas County Canine Care & Control Art Installations

The Arts Commission of Greater Toledo’s Art in Public Places Program has partnered with the Lucas County Commissioner’s office to commission new public art for specific sites in the soon to be constructed Lucas County Canine Care and Control building. Submissions due July 10, 2023.

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Glass City Center

The Art in Public Places Committee worked with Lucas County Commissioners, The Collaborative Architects and other stakeholders to commission artwork for the newly renovated Glass City Center. Chaired by founding Art in Public Places member, Susan Reams, this committee has commissioned seven projects in and around the building including the new plaza on Summit Street.

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Field of Histories

Field of Histories will offer a destination for exploring the past, present, and future of glass in Toledo through an immersive public art piece that is integrated into the landscape. The project, to be installed at Glass City Metropark, will consist of glass orbs on posts, in which significant objects provided from the community will be scanned and laser engraved inside.

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Broadway Street Corridor

The Arts Commission, in partnership with City of Toledo Transportation Division, the Broadway Corridor Coalition and the Sofia Quintero Arts and Cultural Center, seeks to commission artistically designed infrastructure enhancements for a new construction project along the Broadway Street corridor in the Old South End, Toledo.

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ABCs book page

The ABC's of Public Art Book & Field Guide

As part of continued education efforts The Arts Commission’s Art in Public Places program two new books have been published and are now available for public request and pick up. Both books are available for free to the public as both printed and digital versions. The Art in Public Places Field Guide, designed by Madhouse Creative, features nine zones and over eighty works of art to explore. The ABC’s of Public Art, illustrated by Merrill Rainey, is geared toward ages 3-5 as they follow Artimus the Owl throughout Northwest Ohio from A-Z. This is the second edition of the popular book. Both editions have now been distributed to over 15,000 children in the area.

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Mural Resource Guide

Murals are created by artists of diverse cultural traditions and backgrounds and are an integral part of the cultural expression in the City of Toledo. They contribute to the character and identity of a neighborhood through public statements of values and awareness. Murals have the power to draw people in and create unexpected conversations and connections. The intent of the guide is to aid artists and others in understanding issues surrounding the creation of a mural and to apprise parties involved in mural projects of the permit and application process.

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As part of the continued investment in downtown Toledo's infrastructure, there are ten new murals that were completed in the summer of 2021 and the fall of 2020. Three of the murals are located in the Toledo Citiwalk Concourse system of tunnels that run from the Vistula Parking Garage to Imagination Station. Artists include Ken Dushane (Toledo, OH), Timothy Smith (Los Angeles, CA), Leah Tumerman (Vallejo, CA). Seven of the murals are located along Water St. and feature work by Maya Hayuk (Brooklyn, NY), Louise Jones (Detroit, MI), JUURI (Oklahoma City, OK) Yusuf Lateef (Toledo, OH), Arlindo de Oliveira (New York / São Paulo), Bradley Scherzer + Jacob Parr (Toledo, OH), and Tony Touch (Toledo, OH).

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