A vital component of any urban landscape, the presence of public art in a community signifies the character of the neighborhood. Downtown Missoula has a wealth of public art and culture. Listed below are over 20 works of public art on display in the Downtown area alone. To follow along the self-guided walking tour, refer to the map as seen here.
- “Wagon Wheel”
No longer available.
- “Peace Works”
Created by area high school students Peter Bradstock, Sarah Jackson, Amanda Keeland, Brittany Kirkland, Sarah Logan, Yuki Sugimoto, and Tara Westle with artist Amie Thurber in the summer of 2000. A mural celebrating diversity with a colorful, festive atmosphere, Peace Works is located at the rear entrance of the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center at 519 S. Higgins.
- “Dreaming Missoula”
Sculpture in the Clark Fork Natural Park on the south side of the Clark Fork River near the Orange Street overpass. Created in 1994 by Lynne Hull and Kioko Mwitki, a native of Kenya. Hull sculpted the wood elements, driftwood boards, etc., and Mwitki fabricated the metal components.
Sculpture on the East Side of the Higgins Street Bridge just north of the Clark Fork River. Created by Jeffrey Funk in 1989 as a project of the City of Missoula Public Art Committee, these three large bronze fish twist among boulders and are a favorite among children.
The untitled mural in Bess Reed Park on the south end of Clay Street is behind the Holiday Inn Missoula Downtown along the Clark Fork River. Painted by Big Brothers Big Sisters in 1997, this mural features volunteers and children.
- “Cattin’ Around”
The Cattin’ Around sculpture adorns Central Park parking garage in the 100 block of West Main Street. Mike Hollem created this whimsical, ferrous cement depiction of a sprawled alley cat in 1991 as a project of the City of Missoula Public Arts Committee. More recently, the sculpture has been mentioned nationally as a must see for cat lovers. A small puddle of water collects on the cats back to create a birdbath.
The Studebaker on the side of the Studebaker Building at 216 West Main Street was created by noted local artist Stan Hughes in 2000. The work pays tribute to the historical background of the Studebaker Building and the heart of the Gasoline Alley historic area, which evolved on West Main Street int he early 1900s and was a project of the City of Missoula Public Arts Committee.
- “Uptown Tiles”
The Uptown Apartments, located at 329 Woody Street, has 500 colorful 6-inch ceramic tiles mounted on seven large concrete planters made by hundreds of people at a First Night Missoula celebration.
- “E.S. Paxson Murals”
The E.S. Paxson Murals are located inside the Missoula County Courthouse at 200 West Broadway. Created sometime between 1912 and 1914, these historical scenes were painted on canvas with oils.
- “Veteran’s Memorial”
The Veterans Memorial honors veterans of WWI and WWII. Located on the Missoula County Courthouse lawn on the corner of Broadway and Ryman, this cast bronze sculpture of a WWI soldier was created by J. Pauling in 1921. A 1927 plaque lists WWI veterans and a 1948 plaque lists WWII veterans.
- The Heart of Missoula Murals
The Heart of Missoula murals are located at 111 West Broadway, at the corner of Broadway and Higgins Avenues. These murals are the result of a unique public/private collaboration between the Missoula Public Art Committee, the Missoula Redevelopment Agency, and Rick Bice. Artist Hadley Ferguson created seven large panels depicting the University of Montana and Downtown Missoula. The other five panels showcase various buildings and streets as they existed in the early 1900s and feature the Star Garage, the Kohn Clock, early newspaper publishing, Missoula railroads, and the Garden City Brewery.
The “Scenic” mural, a painting of scenic mountains and rivers, was created by John Caroln in 1996 on the east side of Plonk at 322 North Higgins Avenue.
- Missoula Art Park
Completed in the spring of 2017, the Missoula Art Park is Downtown Missoula’s new artistic offering. With a new outdoor gathering place complete with tables, chairs, benches, trees and plants, the Art Park offers a place for folks to linger and an outdoor restroom for the public’s use. The Missoula Art Museum curates rotating art shows in the outdoor space, improving the quality of life for all.
- Candy Land
No longer available.
Located indoors at 140 West Pine, Ponder was designed by Mary Iverson to honor and inspire those who participate in the legislative process. As City Council and community members walk down the long corridor toward the Council Chambers, they are inspired to go through a process of clearing their minds of concerns for their personal lives, and enter the non-partisan, objective mind set required for public service.
- Walter Hook Series
The Walter Hook Series is located inside the Chambers in City Hall at 435 Ryman Street. Painted in 1984-1985 by Missoula artist Walter Hook, the series of seven oils was purchased with the Bill Cregg Memorial Fund and was a project of the City of Missoula Public Art Committee.
- Mountain Line Transfer Center Mural
The mural is located in the Mountain Line Transfer Center between the Missoula County Courthouse and City Hall. The mural features 200 tiles decorated with deer, eagles, bears, trout, bitterroots, roses, and other symbols that represent the natural heritage of Montana. The mural was created in April of 2000 by Missoula County Public School students with the help of their art instructors Katherine Lynch, Jackie Alford, Carla Getz and Susanne Woyciechowicz, with local artist Dana Boussard.
- Proper Shoppers
Installed at the Mountain Line Transfer Center in 2002, the Proper Shoppers solid bronze sculpture was created by Missoula artist Tom Rippon, a ceramics professor at UM, and is a project of the City of Missoula Public Art Committee. The stylized grandmother and her favorite grandchild watch as dozens of buses and hundreds of pedestrians scurry about
- Virgin Mary
The Virgin Mary sculpture is set in a river cobble grotto in the side garden of St. Francis Xavier Church at 420 West Pine Street. Sculpture and creation date unknown.
- Wall of 100 Hearts
Located at The Heart Institute at Providence St. Patrick Hospital, these heartfelt mosaics were made by the sixth grade classes of Washington Middle School in 2002. As inspiration for the patients, each heart was created by an individual student. Teachers Joni McNeil and Mary Gillhouse coordinated with the art direction from Jayne Piazza.
- First Night Tile Project
The First Night Tile Project is on the Northside/Westside Pedestrian Bridge near the Grand and First Street intersection. Created by children and adults who participated in the First Night Missoula public tile project on New Year’s Eve 1999, these tiles were installed in April 2000. The theme features animals of all types.
The Crossing sculpture is located in front of the Northern Pacific Railroad Depot at the north end of Higgins Avenue. Consisting of four large red Xs made of enamel on metal with concrete wing walls and platform set on a stone ballast, it represents railroad themes. “Crossings” is a project of the City of Missoula Public Art Committee. Created by Taag Peterson in 1986, the XXXXs relate to the tall trestles necessary for crossing mountain ravine.
- John Mullan
The John Mullan marble sculpture is located in the plaza at the end of North Higgins Avenue in front of the Northern Pacific Railroad Depot. Created in 1914 and one of just six sculptures remaining, this structure was erected to mark the route of the wagon road, surveyed and built by John Mullan, from Fort Benton to Fort Walla Walla on the Columbia River.
- Brennan’s Wave
This Caras Park sculpture, viewing platform and whitewater feature in the Clark Fork River are named after world-class Brannan Guth, who died in Chile in 2001 pursuing his sport and passion.
- A Carousel for Missoula
“If you will give it a home, and promise no one will ever take it apart, I will build A Carousel for Missoula.” That was the promise Missoula cabinet-maker Chuck Kaparich made to the Missoula City Council in 1991. By opening day, May 27, 1995, over 100,000 hours of volunteer time had gone into the construction of 38 permanent ponies, three replacement ponies, two chariots, 14 gargoyles, gargoyle frames and mirror frames, and the largest band organ in continuous use in the United States, all within a jewel box building. You can find it at 101 Carousel Drive.
- Dragon Hollow
Dragon Hollow is a magical playground adjacent to A Carousel for Missoula. The playland was the combined effort of artists and consultants from Leathers and Associates, Inc. Dragon Hollow was built by 6,000 volunteers in just nine days.
- Mountain Waters Currents Aquatic Center
The City of Missoula Public Art Committee commissioned Missoula artist James Todd to create a design to be sandblasted by Nash, Inc. on the exterior of the Currents Aquatic Center. Todd’s Mountain Waters design features motifs of Northwestern wildlife amidst cascading waters.
- Go with the Flow
This sculpture, which stands 20 feet tall at its highest point, is located at the Park Place Parking Structure, and tells the story of changing water, an element that designer Mike Golins speaks deeply to people in Missoula. “We fish on rivers, tube them, even”, he said, “learn life lessons from their currents.” Golins’ design is a rolling wave that pours into a crashing one that flows into an eddy, and the entire structure points from Downtown Missoula to the Clark Fork River.
Decorative Traffic Signal Boxes:
Located at various intersections in Downtown and throughout Missoula. For more information, click HERE
Downtown Flower Baskets
Designed by local artist Russell Smith, the son of Russell Smith, Sr., whom the Federal Courthouse is named after, the Downtown Flower Baskets were created in two batches and hung in 1981 and 1985. Each of the 68 baskets are individually designed and crafted with a theme of their own. The Missoula Downtown Association hangs and waters the flowers throughout the summer months.
Downtown Boulevard Banners
A capital improvement project introduced to the Downtown scene by the Missoula Downtown Association and the Missoula Redevelopment Agency in 1999, the banners feature four designs on four distinct-colored fabrics. The artwork on three banners depict scenes of Missoula taken from a Mark Gutow watercolor painting. A project fostered by Mark Gorseth, the banners are changed seasonally and cover 112 light posts throughout Downtown.
The Missoula City Fire Department mural is a bas-relief located in the arched alcove on the west side of the Missoula Headquarters Fire Station at the corner of Pine and Madison. Rudy Autio created this colorful work project of the City of Missoula Public Art Committee in 1995 with scenes relating to fire-fighting history.
The untitled mural at the YWCA, located at 1130 West Broadway, is a beautiful transformation of women. The mural was designed and produced in 2000 by area high school students Amanda Keeland, Melissa McNay, Carla Rothenbuecher, AC Rothenbuecher and Rachel Bailey with artist Amie Thurber.