Urban Arts Institute


About the Urban Arts Institute at Massachusetts College of Art and Design (UrbanArts, Inc.)

The Urban Arts Institute at Massachusetts College of Art and Design works to promote excellence in public art and design. This mission is accomplished through services which facilitate public art and design projects, through educational programs for professionals and students, and through public policy advocacy. The Urban Arts Institute is an independent non-profit organization affiliated with MassArt to strengthen each institution’s commitment to the study and practice of public art and design. The Institute is a resource for artists and communities, city and state agencies, architects, landscape architects, urban planners and other constituencies interested in the quality of the built environment. UrbanArts is committed to the practice of integrated design, sustainable approaches, and fully accessible spaces.


Art in public places: Provides services to implement public art projects for private and public-sector clients in New England and across the country. UrbanArts administers public art commissions for public agencies and institutions as well as for private sector clients. These projects are funded through fee-for-service contracts.
Arts and community development: Creates neighborhood-based collaborative design projects that involve citizens in planning for the future of their communities. By forging community partnerships, UrbanArts promotes the incorporation of art at an early stage in urban revitalization and community-building efforts, with support from private and public grants.
Education and resources: Offers educational programs for the public and access to resources for artists, community groups and design professionals seeking to implement public art programs. UrbanArts maintains a national artist registry and related databases representing over 2,000 artists and a library of resource materials on public art. It also sponsors lectures, panel discussions, and workshops on a variety of relevant topics.


From its inception in 1980 through its more recent alliance with Massachusetts College of Art and Design, the Urban Arts Institute’s mission always has been based on the belief that the cultural vitality of our communities depends on incorporating the arts in the public realm, by engaging artists, and citizens. The alliance in 1999 of an independent not-for-profit organization with a state institution of higher learning that is also the only freestanding public art college in the nation, provides a unique and revitalized platform from which to promote this ideal. In this context, the institute’s role as a service provider for public art process and administration in the absence of a policy for public art in Massachusetts is unique and of singular importance.

UrbanArts provides expertise in the administration of public art projects from artist selection through implementation; it administers the largest public slide registry in New England; and it engages communities and youth in particular in educational programs which focus on public art.

The Urban Arts Institute is supported in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency supporting the arts, humanities, and sciences.