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.
Mural on the north wall of the Boys & Girls Club/Higgins Hall near the Holiday Gas Station at the southwest corner of South Higgins and Fourth. Features a giant bald eagle, mountain peaks, and a flowing stream. Said to have been designed by an artist and painted by children.
- “Wagon Wheel”
Mural on the north wall of Big Sky Embroidery store on the southeast corner of Higgins and Fourth. Artist unknown.
- “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.
Mural in Bess Reed Park on the south end of Clay Street. Volunteers and children of Big Brothers and Sisters painted this vibrant and humorous mural in 1997.
- “Cattin’ Around”
Sculpture adorning Central Park parking garage in the 100 block of West Main Street. Mike Hollern created this whimsical, ferrous cement depiction of a sprawled alley cat in 1991. A project of the City of Missoula Public Art Committee, “Cattin’ Around” features a small puddle of water on the cat’s back to create a birdbath.
Mural on the side of the Studebaker Building at 216 West Main Street. 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 in the early 1900s. A project of the City of Missoula Public Art Committee.
Mural on the East Side of the former Salvation Army Thrift Store at 339 West Broadway. Created in 1994, this mural was painted with recycled paint by an unknown artist free of charge.
- “E.S. Paxson Murals”
Murals 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”
Sculpture honoring veterans of WWI and WWII. Located at the southeast corner of the Missoula County Courthouse Lawn on the corner of Broadway and Ryman, this cast bronze sculpture of a First World War soldier was created by J. Pauling in 1921. A 1927 plaque lists WWI veterans, and a 1948 plaque lists WWII veterans.
Mural on the west side of the Salad Bar & Sandwich Co. at 130 West Broadway. John Carlon painted this scenic view of Montana in 1996.
Murals on the north and east sides of the Oxford at 337 North Higgins Avenue. John Carlon painted these figures in 1997 on Plexiglas to fill real windows.
Mural on the East Side of the Army Navy Economy Store at 322 North Higgins Avenue. A painting of scenic mountains and rivers, created by John Carlon in 1996.
- Mountain Line Transfer Center
Mural 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 2000 by Missoula County Public School students with the help of their art instructors Katherine Lynch, Jackie Alford, Carla Getz and Susanne Woyciechowicz, along with local artist Dana Boussard.
- “Proper Shoppers”
Sculpture at the Mountain Line Transfer Center in 2002, the solid bronze sculpture was created by Missoula artist Tom Rippon, a ceramics professor at UM. 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.
- “Walter Hook Series”
Murals located inside the Council Chambers in City Hall at 435 Ryman Street. Painted in 1984-85 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 PublicArt Committee.
- “Virgin Mary”
Sculpture 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.
- First Night Tile Project
Tile installation 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, the theme features animals of all types.
Sculpture, located in the front yard of 324 West Alder, is a dinosaur constructed of chains and carrying a mailbox. Paul Golden created this sculpture in 1988.
Sculpture 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 wingwalls and platform set on a stone ballast, it represents railroad themes. Created by Taag Peterson in 1986 and a project of the City of Missoula Public Art Committee, the Xs relate to the tall trestles necessary for crossing mountain ravines.
- “John Mullan”
Marble sculpture 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.
Mural on the West Side of the Missoula City Fire Station headquarters at the corner of East Pine and Madison. A project of the City of Missoula Public Art Committee, Rudy Autio created this colorful work in 1995 with scenes relating to firefighting history.
Mural at the YWCA, located at 1130 W. Broadway. A beautiful tribute to the courage and 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.
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.