Fostering curiosity in kids (and their parents) since 2011

50 States of Public Art: The Municipality of Anchorage’s 1% for Art Program in Anchorage, Alaska

Statue of a moose standing like a man in front of Anchorage Art Museum.

Photo: Chris Arend Photography

Public art is everywhere, and this is the season for getting out and viewing it. Which is why I’ve started using some of my posts on Caterpickles to highlight public art projects happening now in various parts of the country. With that, let’s take a quick trip to Alaska.

The Municipality of Anchorage’s 1% for Art Program in Anchorage, Alaska

Artist: Rachelle Dowdy, 2006

Location: Anchorage Museum entrance, off to the right

Photo Source: Chris Arend Photography, via the Anchorage Museum website

Associated Public Art Project:

Rachelle Dowdy’s collection of four concrete animal sculptures was funded through the Municipality of Anchorage’s 1% for Art program. Established in 1978, the 1% for Art program sets aside 1% of the construction budget for public buildings for commissioned works of art.

The program, which is based on a state law passed in 1975, has brought many wonderful pieces of public art to the Anchorage area. Today, there are more than 400 pieces of public art scattered around the city. One of them, “Snow Words” by Cecil Balmond, was named one of 2013’s 50 best public art projects created in the United States.

You can find more public art near Anchorage’s schools, in its parks, and in front of its municipal buildings. The Municipality of Anchorage maintains a Facebook page for its 1% for Art Program to alert the community about free public art tours, new installations, and calls for new art.

Want to see it for yourself?

You can find Rachelle Dowdy’s animal sculptures installed outside The Anchorage Museum at 625 C Street in Anchorage, Alaska 99501. Visitor hours and directions are available on the museum’s website.

Cecil Balmond’s “Snow Words” is installed in the lobby of the Alaska State Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory at 4805 Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Avenue in Anchorage, Alaska 99507.

The next time you’re in Anchorage, take a few minutes and look around. I bet you’ll spot something surprising. When you do, we’d love to hear about it here on Caterpickles or Twitter (@shalahowell).

Want to go, but need help selling it to your kids?  

The fact that public art is installed in public spaces creates all sorts of opportunities for family fun. Pack a picnic lunch, and pair the outing with a trip to a nearby park or playground. If you have one, consider bringing your dog.

Don’t have time for a full-fledged outing? Challenge your kids to keep their eyes open while you are out and about doing something else. I bet they (or you) will spot something interesting on your next walk, bike ride, or errand run.

My book, What’s That, Mom?: How to use public art to engage your children with the world around them… without being an artist yourself, is full of tips like these for making public art sightings fun for your entire family.

What’s That, Mom? provides 15 accessible, practical strategies for using public art to spark conversations with children between the ages of 3 and 10 — no artistic talent or insight required. What’s That, Mom? is available at and Amazon. There’s even a journal to go with it so that your kids can sketch their favorite works of art and you can record your favorite moments from your outing.

NOTE: The above paragraphs contain affiliate links to, an online bookstore that provides financial support to local, independent bookstores. At the time I wrote this post, had already raised $12.8m for local bookstores. If you use the link in the previous paragraph to purchase my book on, I’ll earn a commission on your book purchase, as will your preferred independent bookshop. You can also find my book in the new Caterpickles BookstoreRegardless of whether you use my links or visit the Caterpickles Bookstore, thank you for spending part of your day reading Caterpickles. Learn more about Affiliate Links, the Caterpickles Bookstore, and why I decided to become a Affiliate.

Happy public art hunting!

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2 Responses to “50 States of Public Art: The Municipality of Anchorage’s 1% for Art Program in Anchorage, Alaska”

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