Public Art / Monument Policy

By-Law Number
As Amended by

Legislative History: Enacted June 26, 2018 (By-law No. CPOL.-295-286); Amended July 25, 2023 (By-law No. CPOL.-295(a)-216)

Last Review Date: July 25, 2023

Service Area Lead: Manager of Culture Services

1. Policy Statement

1.1 The City of London supports the display of art/monuments on municipally-owned or occupied public space that will strengthen the natural assets of the city, provide unique attractions and act as a constant delight to residents and visitors to London. Public art/monuments celebrate and honour our culture, history, people, events and locations while enhancing our economic vibrancy. Public art/monuments impact many aspects of community living. Public art/monuments enrich daily life through visual experiences and attracts people to art-enriched places.

1.2 Principles

Public art/monuments are significant to the City of London because they:

  • enrich public spaces for the enjoyment of all;
  • serve the city as a whole;
  • engage the community, and visitors;
  • promote London as a unique destination;
  • can yield proven economic benefits;
  • demonstrate excellence and a wide range of artistic expression;
  • are integrated conceptually and physically into the local context;
  • may provide opportunities for local/provincial/national/international artists/creators/practitioners of traditional arts and historians to participate in public art/monument projects;
  • may foster opportunities for shared experiences;
  • are relevant to London and Londoners;
  • are accessible with daily living, work, and play;
  • support place making and neighbourhood revitalization;
  • commemorate events of local, national and provincial significance;
  • are a part of major capital investment projects in London; 
  • recognize outstanding achievements of Londoners or their community;
  • are presented in a manner that responds to their unique requirements for care, conservation and safety; and,
  • are preserved for the enjoyment of future generations through the City of London ten-year Capital Lifecycle Maintenance Program and the use of specialized consultant conservators and/or artist/creators.

1.3.      Purpose of Public Art / Monument Policy

The primary purpose of this Policy is to provide a mechanism through which the City of London acquires significant pieces of public art/monuments for municipally-owned public space through their purchase, commission or donation. The City may authorize public art/monuments that it does not own to be placed on municipally-owned public space through an agreement between the City of London and the owner of the public art/monuments.

2. Definitions

2.1 Municipally-owned public space - areas frequented by the general public that are owned or occupied by the City of London.  Municipally-owned public space includes, but is not limited to, parks, road allowances, tunnels, boulevards, streets, courtyards, squares and bridges, as well as building exteriors, foyers, concourses and significant interior public areas of municipal buildings.

2.2 Professional Artist - a person who is critically recognized as an artist: they possess skill, training and/or experience in an artistic discipline, are active in and committed to their art practice and has a history of public presentation.

2.3 Public Art/Monuments – works that are displayed on municipally-owned public space.

Public art/monuments are intended to contribute positively to London’s urban space by providing landmarks, defining meeting places, injecting humour, speaking of history and reminding us of greatness. It is hoped that works of public art/monuments on municipally-owned public space will be viewed by citizens and visitors with a keen sense of pleasure, community pride, wonder or curiosity and lend a feeling of satisfaction that these works are “ours”, that they help to define “us” and that they belong to this community.

Public art/monuments may include, but are not limited to:

a) sculpture;

b) murals;

c) memorials, monuments, historic objects or artifacts such as the Cenotaph, cannons etc.;

d) fountains or water features that contribute aesthetically to their surroundings (i.e. not spray pads);

e) hard and soft landscaping components which are not a mere extension of the landscape architecture;

f) special engineering or architectural features of existing capital projects that contribute aesthetically to their surroundings; and,

g) community public art related to neighbourhood beautification.

Public art/monuments may be integrated into the design of the site, buildings and landscapes in publicly accessible and visible areas of a site. These areas can include the walls, floors and ceilings or other publicly accessible open space such as plazas, forecourts, courtyards, colonnades or setbacks.

When integrated, public art must retain an interpretative aspect, as determined by the commissioned artist, and not be a mere extension of the design of the architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, etc. of the new development.

3. Applicability

3.1 This Policy is applicable to both permanent and temporary installations of public art/monuments. Permanent works include fixed works which, due to their weight and size, become an integral component of any municipally-owned public space, in terms of structure, design context, or neighbourhood. Temporary works include works created for a specific event or place for a specific occasion and timeframe. The City of London has the authority to determine the length of time works will be displayed on municipally-owned public space.

3.2 Public Art/Monument Exclusions

Examples of public art/monuments that are excluded under the scope of this policy are:

a) directional elements such as super graphics, signage or colour coding, except where these elements are integral parts of the original works or public art/monuments project;

b) objects which are mass-produced of standard design such as playground equipment, or statuary objects; and,

c) landscape architecture and landscape gardening except where these elements are an integral part of the original work of art/monument, or are the result of collaboration among design professionals including at least one artist.

4.         The Policy

4.1 Administering Public Art/Monuments Program

The Public Art/Monuments Program will be administered by the City of London’s Culture Office. The Culture Services Division may delegate responsibility for specific aspects of the program such as the selection process, implementation, maintenance and conservation/restoration to other City service areas or knowledgeable community cultural organizations.

4.2 Maintenance and Conservation/Restoration

The Culture Services, in conjunction with Environment and Infrastructure, will oversee the maintenance, conservation/restoration of public art/monuments through the City of London ten-year Capital Lifecycle Maintenance Program and the use of specialized consultant conservators and/or artist/creators.

4.3 De-Accessioning Public Art/Monuments

The Culture Services will consider candidates for the de-accessioning of permanent and temporary public art/monuments. The de-accessioned art/monuments may be moved, sold, returned to the artist or destroyed, with any monies received through the sale of art/monuments being placed in the Cultural Prosperity Reserve Fund.

4.4 Placement of Outdoor Art/Monuments on Privately-Owned Space

Though not addressed specifically in this Policy, the City of London believes in encouraging the inclusion of outdoor art/monuments in privately-owned space across the city. It is recognized that these works have significant appeal and can contribute to the identity and character of our community. The City will encourage the private sector through bonusing and other donation mechanisms to contribute to the Public Art/Monuments Program.

Last modified:Tuesday, April 09, 2024