The City of Houston Launches Updated App For Its Public Art Collection (i.e. Art Outdoors!)

by Christopher Blay April 6, 2020

A few days ago, The City of Houston updated and added to the app for its public art collection with the launch of a new section of the app. The City of Houston Art Collection lists 10 of the 50 public art works in the city’s collection on the “Sites” section of the app’s home screen. The ten include Mel Chin’s Seven Wonders next to the Wortham Center, which boasts 1050 drawings from children born on the 150th anniversary of the city in 1986, and the Houston Police Officers’ Memorial on Allen Parkway, which combines five ziggurat pyramids with a Greek cross.


Mel Chin’s Seven Wonders.

The listings for the ten works on the “Sites” page feature photos, a brief audio tour of the art in English and Spanish, and a full transcript of the short recording. The welcome message for the site is read by City Council member Sallie Alcorn, who is assisted by Debbie McNulty, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs .


An Interactive map on a new app for the City of Houston’s Public Art Collection.

The main feature of the app, however, is a Houston Art Alliance interactive map which shows the locations for city’s entire public art collection. There are also art tours from specific parts of the city: Downtown, Discovery Green/Avenida Houston, Buffalo Bayou Park, and Hermann Park.

Clicking on any of the icons along the highlighted tour map will reveal a thumbnail image of the work, along with a brief description and a fact sheet that lists the artist, date, title of work, and other information.

One tour highlight: artist Dean Ruck’s Big Bubble. The description of the work reads: “After reviewing Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s master plan for increasing aeration in the bayou, Dean Ruck conceived the Big Bubble and won a national competition for projects to be included in Sesquicentennial Park. Visitors can see (and hear) the Big Bubble by walking over to Preston Street Bridge and pressing a red, unlabeled button located on a pillar facing southeast. An air pump actuates release of air in Buffalo Bayou when the button is pushed.” (That last hyperlink takes you to a 2014 Glasstire video in which Rainey Knudson and Bill Davenport demonstrate! So if you come across a red button on Preston Street Bridge in Houston, push it!)


Dean Ruck’s Big Bubble, on the Preston Street Bridge in Sesquicentennial Park, Downtown Houston.

To use the app, please click on the link here.

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Sheila Mayfield April 14, 2020 - 21:40

Awesome!!! Thank you Christopher! Excellent article on an Excellent collection. I can hardly wait to add more sites to the tour!!

Dr.Monica Smith April 15, 2020 - 09:28

Great Work @Christopher!

Christine West April 16, 2020 - 09:43

Thanks for spreading the word about Houston’s amazing public art collection!
A quick note about Big Bubble…the work was severely damaged after hurricane Harvey and is not yet back online. Houston First, who manages the City of Houston art works in Sesquicentennial Park is working with Dean to bring it back as soon as possible. Thanks for your patience.


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