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Public Art

Public Art

Spatial Planning and Design Office develops a comprehensive approach on the field of public art and provides input for public art projects. We base our activities on the principles of inclusivity, accessibility and sustainability. Our goal is to create high-quality and versatile human scale urban environment while supporting accessibility of art and culture.

Our responsibilities include:
- organizing public art open calls, procurements and production;
- managing, consulting and coordinating collaborations with various public institutions, private companies, and cultural organizations;
- leading the Public Art Committee with the purpose of working out and implementing principles for the development of public art, initiating public art projects, and advising large-scale and substantial public art projects;
- carrying out mapping of public art;
- collaboration with City District Governments, Tallinn Culture and Sports Department, Tallinn Environmental and Communal Department, and Tallinn City Planning Department.

For further inquiries contact Kati Ots, Curator of Public Art.


10 Principles for Public Art in Tallinn

The principles for public art in Tallinn present important guidelines and values that should be considered when commissioning and producing public art in compliance with the Tallinn 2035 Development Strategy. The aim of the principles is to support the production of contemporary public art and form the basis for proposals, decisions and activities of city institutions as well as private parties. The principles were compiled by the Tallinn Commission for Public Art.
 
Transparency

The process for commissioning public art should be transparent and all aspects of the selected artworks thoroughly justified. Various forms of commission such as one or two-stage open calls, invitational competitions, etc. should be implemented. All parties should receive an appropriate fee. 
The installation Enchanting Encounters was created in a public rammed earth workshop. L. Linsi, R. Reemaa (2021, EAA100 TURN! in the sculpture garden of the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia)

Collaboration with experts

The production of an artwork should include collaboration with local as well as international art experts and organisations, including them in the preparatory and decision-making processes.

Illustration of Cooperation

Holistic public space

Working with the public space surrounding the artworks is an inherent part of the production of public art as well as of supporting their area of influence. Public art improves the quality of the urban environment, providing a holistic spatial experience. 
The grassroots initiative Urban Barley Field transplanted a field of barley onto the steps of the abandoned Pallasti bridge. A. Press, A. Tamm (2016)

Versatility

Contemporary formats for public art are encouraged such as temporary installations, spatial interventions, land art, events, etc. In the case of the production of a new artwork, the variety of existing public art formats, mediums, artists, locations and subjects should be considered.
The huge textile installation O moved around the streets of Tallinn with help from gusts of wind as well as human intervention. A. Aaloe, A. Ader, F. Kasearu, K. Künnap, G. Soosalu (2011, LIFT11)

Sustainability

The environmental impact and life cycles of materials should be considered in the case of the production of a new artwork. Local resources as well as recycled and repurposed materials are preferred. 
The installation Pipeformation used pipe fencing collected from across Tallinn. D. Drobot, K. J. Jõeste, P. J. Keedus, B. Kisand, K. Kull, M. Poom, R. M. Puhkan, S. T. Tõnisson, E. P. P. Visnap (2021, EAL100 TURN!)

Care and maintenance

Caring for existing artworks, their maintenance and activation is as important as the production of new ones. Necessary maintenance and restoration of the artworks should be carried out consistently and their accessibility and lighting improved.
The installation Tallinn Tram Object received heritage protection in 2020 and was reopened after being restored in 2022. K. Kurismaa (1993)

Accessibility

Attention should be paid to the physical accessibility of public artworks in the urban environment, their surroundings and directions of access. The signage and communication accompanying the artwork provides access to information (therein also for disabled people).
The Memorial to the Victims of Communism at Maarjamäe is physically accessible, provides signage in three languages and includes elements that can be experienced through touch. Special excursions and audio descriptions have been created for people with vision impairment. K. Vellevoog, J. Tiidemann, T. Truus (2018)

Local involvement

The primary audience for public art in Tallinn are the local inhabitants. Local communities should be included in at least one of the stages in the production of an artwork. Public artworks should suit with the local cultural context.
The communally built Straw Chapel was created as part of the Pollinator Highway installation competition. Local inhabitants could participate in a public vote to select the winners.  E. Kleemann, K. Mustasaar, L. Volmer, M. M. Peil, M. A. Veesaar (2022)

Equality

The process for commissioning public art should implement the principles of equal treatment, considering all the important criteria for social equality.
Illustration of different artists: a mother carrying a baby while doing woodworks, a performance artist, a street art artist, an elderly artist.

Communication

Public art should be accompanied by a variety of media (e.g. signage, audioguide, webpage, tours, etc.) that support the artworks and elaborate on their significance. Consistent mapping of public art, public discussion, contextualisation and the reassessment of requirements is essential.
Illustration of two people communicating.


Realized projects

Ongoing projects

  • Public art database and online map (status: second stage will be completed in 2024)
  • Ahtri Art Project (status: installation will be opened in spring 2024)
  • Kalamaja Cat August (status: sculpture will be opened in 2023/2024)

Last modified 22.12.2023