Public Art in Montgomery County

Public art can be a catalyst for community building, economic development, and creating a sense of place. Where it is located, how it connects to its surroundings, and whether it engages viewers can be as important as the design of the artwork itself.

Creation of public art is an option under the Montgomery County development review process when applications are in downtown areas and transit-area zones. Significant works of public art have been installed in Silver Spring, Bethesda, White Flint, and Wheaton. Learn more about the Art Review Panel that guides creation and installation of public art associated with private development, and watch our Public Art in Public Places Video:


Public artwork became an amenity to be provided by developers in exchange for increased density as part of the optional method standards of the Zoning Ordinance in 1974. Under the optional method, developers are granted higher densities in exchange for significant public amenities and facilities. Optional method development is available in downtown areas and the Commercial Residential mixed-use zone. The Commercial/Residential Zone Guidelines provides criteria by which artworks are reviewed.

The optional method is intended to create a more attractive urban environment through a package of public amenities provided by the private developer. To qualify for the optional method, additional filings are required and certain development standards must be met including a public amenities package. Among the list of qualifying amenities are increased open space, affordable housing, farmland protection, environmental conservation, and public art.

Artworks are reviewed by the Art Review Panel (with representatives from the Public Arts Trust Steering Committee, PATSC), whose recommendations inform the final decision of the Planning Board. Although the artworks approved through the optional method are a public amenity, they are privately owned, operated, and maintained.

 “Sewing the fabric of our Community,” by Kate Decicco and Rose Jaffe (Summer 2015) in the Long Branch neighborhood

“Sewing the fabric of our Community,” by Kate Decicco and Rose Jaffe (Summer 2015) in the Long Branch neighborhood

Public art is also created through taxpayer-supported funds. The Public Arts Trust aims to build and inspire communities through place-making and to nurture artists engaged in public art.

The public art program dates to the late 1970s, when County Council member William Hanna, former mayor of Rockville, established a countywide program that funded art as a percentage of capital projects. In 1983, the County adopted a program that mandated that 1% of certain capital projects be set aside for the acquisition and commissioning of artworks. The amount was amended twice–to .5% in 1988 and then to .25% in 1990.

In 1995, the Council adopted a law that requires consideration of .05 percent of each fiscal year’s total capital expenditures to be allocated for public art. Funds vary each year.

Art Review Panel

Lead planners coordinate with the Art Review Panel to evaluate the developers’ public benefits package, provide professional guidance, and recommend conditions of approval for the consideration by the Planning Board. The Art Review Panel typically meets bimonthly. Please see their current schedule below.

Montgomery Planning is seeking to fill two vacant volunteer positions on its Art Review Panel. Interested candidates for these positions should have expertise in architecture and/or work full-time as a public artist, as well as be able to discuss the installation, preservation, and long-term maintenance of public art projects throughout the region.

Interested candidates must submit a cover letter, a head shot, a brief bio and a professional resume by Friday, December 6, 2019.

Apply online

Art Review Panel members

  • Suzan Jenkins (PATSC Representative and CEO of Arts and Humanities Council)
  • Amina Cooper (Curator, PATSC Representative and Arts and Humanities Public Art Manager)
  • Christine Farley (Law Professor of Intellectual Property)
  • Claudia Rousseau (Art History Professor and PATSC member)
  • Francoise Carrier (Land Use Attorney)
  • Hiroshi Jacobs (Architect and Public Artist)
  • Judy Sutton Moore (Public Artist)
  • Lee Goodwin (Land Use Attorney and Artist)
  • Mansur Abdul-Malik (Real Estate Developer)
  • Mark Kramer (Community Representative, Architect and Public Artist)

Interested in proposing public art in an optional method development project? The first step in this process is to review the policy document and submit the form referenced below. In addition to this form, the Applicant should contact the coordinator to discuss the meeting dates listed below.

Art Review Panel Schedule

  • Friday, March 8, 2019, 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, May 8, 2019, 10:00 a.m. – 12:30p.m.
  • Wednesday, July 10, 2019, 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, September 11, 2019, 10:00 a.m.- 12:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, November 13, 2019, 10:00 a.m.- 12:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, January 8, 2020, 10:00 a.m.- 12:30 p.m.

All meetings are held at the Planning Department. These meeting dates are subject to change and are typically facilitated for the applicant and their development team.

Public art map

Check out our Public Art in Montgomery County map to find public art near you. Contact the public art coordinator should you have additional questions or comments on a specific public art installation.

The Montgomery Planning Department and the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County have combined our public art inventories to map out as many of the County’s public and private public art commissions to give residents, business owners and visitors a snapshot of the impressive public art collection that can be found in our community. In accordance with the Art Review Panel Policies and Procedures, PUBLIC ART is defined as an artwork that is in the public realm (indoors or outdoors), is visually and/or physically accessible to the public at least eight hours per day. This mapping program serves as an interactive and visual inventory that locates and explores public artworks that are both publicly and privately funded throughout the County. We strive to keep this program user friendly and we welcome the community’s feedback on this map as we continue to maintain our collection.

public art map tool


Last Updated: November 18, 2019