Vancouver Public Art

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The Birds - part of Vancouver Public Art
A sample of public art installations in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Last updated: October 2019

You can find public art throughout the city of Vancouver, British Columbia – at civic buildings, in parks and public spaces, on street corners, in transit shelters, on walls and fences, in community gardens, and places of business. The city has a strong Public Art Program that views public art as a integral component of anything the city builds. It works with artists, communities, and private developers. The program supports permanent and temporary installations, providing an ever-changing landscape of public art. 

During my visits to Vancouver over the last few years, I’ve seen a small but fascinating sample of Vancouver’s public art, a combination of Public Art Program installations and other initiatives. I share some of that now to give you a little taste of Vancouver’s public art.

The bird in the photograph at the front of this post sits in Southeast False Creek Olympic Plaza. It is one of a pair of sparrows created by Vancouver artist Myfanwy MacLeod. At 18 feet tall, the sculptures invert the normal relationship between humans and these typically small birds. According to the City of Vancouver artwork information, “the work attempts to highlight both the lighter and graver sides of what can happen when a non-native species is introduced to an environment, how the beauty of the birds can sometimes mask their threat to biodiversity.”

The Drop art installation at Vancouver Convention Centre
The Drop by inges idee at the Vancouver Convention Centre was installed in 2009 and represents a raindrop’s descent at moment of contact
A public art piece in Vancouver features a colourfully painted orca jumping out of a fountain
Orca Fountain in Discovery Square outside Burrard Station
Bronze statue of Captain George Vancouver
Bronze statue of Captain George Vancouver by artist Charles Marega was installed in 1936 on the north side of Vancouver City Hall
Metal tree-like sculpture that is also a bike rack at Vancouver Science Centre
Solar Bike Tree at Science World is part sculpture and part bicycle rack. The treetop has solar-powered lights.
A collage of five circular geometric designed mosaic art pieces in the sidewalk
Sidewalk mosaics outside Main Street/Science World Skytrain stop
Totem pole art atop a building in Vancouver
Totem pole atop Skwachays Lodge on West Pender Street
Stylished figured carved out of wood
Wood sculpture near Science World
Iron statues of headless, torsless walking figures
Walking Figures by Magdalena Abakanowics beside Broadway and City Hall Canada Line station. The group of headless cast iron figures appear to walk aimlessly without sight. The sombre tone is a reference to both time and loss.
Wood sign and carved log sculpture is a welcome to Kitsilano
I sit in a art installation welcoming you to Kitsilano

At the corner of Cornwall and Burrard, a 16-foot-long horizontal cedar log, a 7-foot high carved cedar log sculpture, and 16 granite and sanstone boulders welcome you to the neighbourhood of Kitsilano. The log was cut from a tree blown down by strong winds in Stanley Park. The cedar log sculpture depicts scenes of the community past and present. The sign was designed by Kitsilano resident Jim Kostyniuk and carved by BC artist Pete Ryan.

Stone with a poem about Vancouver in the Rain etched into it
Vancouver in the Rain by Regan D’Andrade at Kitsilano Beach

You can find art throughout the city beyond that sponsored by the city’s Public Art Program.

Abstract grey and white metal sculpture on wall of buidling
Sculpture on wall of downtown Shoppers Drug Mart
Modern totem pole featuring a human figure at top and a double-headed serpent curling around the pole
The Musqueam double-headed serpent post carved by Brent Sparrow in on the University of British Columbia’s campus and is part of the Indigenous Art Series at UBC

Visit the Vancouver City Public Art site to find out about public art installations in Vancouver and download self-guided walking tours. If you’re interested in murals, head to the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, which is home to a collection of large-scale murals thanks to the Vancouver Mural Festival, which runs for a week in August. Each year new murals are created. The murals stay up for at least two years. The Vancouver Mural Festival has begun to work on projects in other areas of the city, such as Strathtcona and the Downtown Eastside.

I look forward to discovering more of Vancouver’s public art on future visits to the city.

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 PIN IT Vancouver, British Columbia has a fascinating collection of public art.

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  1. I can’t help but vote on the weirdest (headless walking figures), larger than life (sparrow that I feel are a useless) bird, a place to stick your gum? I would’ve stuck it in his eye for encouraging this act. I saw so many “male” public figures in London, that I can’t get the Blue Turkey statue out of my mind – favourite? No, just memorable.

    1. I do love street art. There is a larger collection of the headless figures called Agora in Chicago’s Grant Park. Should be interesting, but I haven’t seen it.

  2. The walking figures are both creepy and artsy at the same time – they capture my interest. I’m also enjoying the orca fountain. Love the collection of art you have found.