Preserving Art in Architecture
The General Services Administration (GSA) oversees the commissioning of artwork for new federal buildings nationwide. This program has done an exceptional job of showcasing the ebullient works of art the of diverse American artists and enhance the civic meaning of our architecture which builds a cultural legacy for the American people.
What is Art in Architecture?
The Art in Architecture program promotes the arts by integrating them into the cultural fabric of our society. The GSA reserves at least one half of one percent of budgets for new construction or renovations of state and federal buildings to purchase and commission public art. This budget may increase if it is deemed that the overall project would benefit, and the funding may not be cancelled or reduced at any time without previous written approval from the commissioner of the Public Building Service. These funds that are procured by the GSA are used for the artist’s expenses, fees, insurance, photography of the piece, and other incidentals.
Benefits of Public Art
Throughout history, art has been used in architecture to create beautiful spaces and can transform how that space is used. Beyond just aesthetics or functionality, there are cultural and economic gains from public art. Public art is uniquely accessible and allows people to experience art in everyday life, which softens urban areas and public spaces. It helps develop a cultural identity and creates a place that people want to go to. Public art can also boost local economies. Businesses supply materials and labor, and restaurants and hotels benefit from a site that attracts visitors. Data also suggests that cities with an active cultural scene are more attractive to individuals and businesses. Memorable places have iconic scenes, and public art helps to create them.
Preservation of Public Art
Millions of dollars are budgeted for the construction of public art every year; however, most projects do not budget for the maintenance costs of the continued preservation that will be required. It is important to consult with a conservator during the initial planning phase to discuss material selections of the piece and installation requirements. Certain materials will require less maintenance than others, which could be a factor in determining what is selected or where it is placed. Conservators can also develop maintenance guidelines for the artwork in advance to ensure proper care and what the anticipated budget for the conservation treatments may cost. Annual assessments and maintenance by a conservator are important and should be done to keep the artwork looking its best, unaltered, the way the artist intended it to be.