Station Artwork Guide


Background | Arts in Transit Program | Adopt-a-Station Program | CTA Artwork Guide


Dotted throughout the CTA rapid transit system are art installations, whose goal is to enhance the passengers' experience while riding the "L" system, making the system more attractive and welcoming. The artwork typically adds aesthetic value to its site, and often has added meaning, perhaps conveying something about the local community or a concept of importance to the artist.



The concept of installing specially-commissioned permanent artwork at a station is believed to have begun with Space Junction of Energy, an orange sheet metal sculpture by Jerald Jacquard installed at Kimball terminal when it was rebuilt in 1974. It would be another decade before more permanent art installations appeared, this time at the stations of the O'Hare Extension in 1983-85. This was followed by two decades without another permanent art installation.

The art program was revived and expanded with the Douglas Rehabilitation Project, the largest capital improvement project in CTA's history up to that time, which began construction in 2001. The Douglas branch renovation was funded and carried out under Federal Transit Administration (FTA) guidelines which made design and fabrication of artwork eligible costs for FTA-funded transit projects. The FTA now believes that the visual quality of the nation's mass transit systems has a profound impact on transit patrons and the community at large, and that good design and art can improve the appearance and safety of a facility, give vibrancy to its public spaces, and make patrons feel welcome. The FTA strongly recommends the inclusion of artwork and makes FTA funds eligible for this use. FTA Circular 9400.1A ("Design and Art in Transit Projects"), dated June 9, 1995, states that these costs "should be at minimum one half of 1% of construction costs, but should not exceed 5% of construction costs, depending on the scale of the project" (section 7 [Eligibility of Costs], paragraph a, subparagraph (2) ). The Douglas project and other capital improvement projects since 2000 are also being undertaken at a time when the City of Chicago and Mayor Daley have expressed strong support for public art and making Chicago an attractive, inviting, sophisticated city.

Since that time, nearly every major CTA station-related capital improvement project has included a public art component. For this effort, the CTA entered into a partnership with the City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs to obtain original artwork that represents the communities in which the facilities are situated.


Arts in Transit Program

Both the City of Chicago and the CTA have sections to administer the transit art program and art installations in future CTA capital improvements.

Within the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, the Chicago Public Art Program was established to implement the city's Percent-for-Art Ordinance, enacted in 1978. The Public Art Committee implements Art Program policy, reviews proposed construction projects and determines eligible Public Art Program projects, determines how the Public Art Program funds will be spent for each project, reviews the recommendation of the Project Advisory Panel regarding the artist(s) and artwork(s) to be selected, and makes the final selection of the artist(s) and artwork(s) to be commissioned or purchased by the Department of Cultural Affairs for each Public Art Program project. Among the 17 members of the Public Art Committee for the Public Art Program is one representative from the Chicago Transit Authority.

At the CTA , the Arts in Transit Program seeks opportunities for art installations in CTA capital improvement projects, works with CTA departments and personnel to integrate the art into the projects, and coordinates with the Chicago Public Art Program to carry out art proposals and installations. The Arts in Transit Program is funded by the Federal Transit Administration.

For the Blue Line Arts Project (which provided the artworks for the Douglas Rehabilitation Project), the City established separate project advisory panels for each station consisting of City, CTA , art community and neighborhood representatives who served as advisors in the selection of the artwork. The CTA made the final selection of artwork and maintains ownership rights to all artwork created under this program. Artwork for rail stations as part of the Dan Ryan branch and Brown Line renovations will be chosen in a similar manner.

To qualify for a commission for transit station artwork, artists submit their qualifications to the City of Chicago Public Art Program through a Request for Qualifications (RFQ). The CTA and Public Art Program then undertake a selection process in collaboration with members of the affected communities. Project Advisory Panels for each station review submitted qualifications and issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to up to four artists per station to complete site-specific proposals for artwork. Artists receiving the RFP are asked to submit a comprehensive proposal. Each panel reviews proposals and selects artists for the commission of permanent artwork for the designated transit station. Finalists are selected for commissions by the Project Advisory Panel after proposals have been submitted.


Adopt-a-Station Program

Other artwork on the "L" system is furnished through the CTA's Adopt-A-Station program. The CTA launched the Adopt-A-Station program in 1997 to develop partnerships between community organizations, local businesses and individuals.

Adopting organizations are offered an opportunity to enhance and revitalize the appearance of CTA rail stations by commissioning local artists to create murals, sculptures, mosaics, paintings or photographs. Stations are adopted for two years. As of October 2005, 20 "L" stations were under adoption.


CTA Artwork Guide

Below are links to our CTA Artwork Guide, viewable listed by station, artist, or artwork title.

Included in the list are what might be considered "permanent" artwork, site-specific artwork that is permanently installed in rail stations. Works installed since 2000 are part of the Arts in Transit Program.

Not included in the guide at this time are artworks installed as part of the Adopt-A-Station program. Although the artwork installed as part of this program is valuable and improves the transit experience, their temporary nature makes them more difficult to document. Although some Adopt-A-Station installations are permanent in nature, many are removed after the two-year adoption period is over. For these reasons, they are not included in the guide at this time. They may be added at a later date, as resources allow.


View "L" Station Artwork (installed through 2005):

By Station/Route
By Artist Name
By Artwork Name

For artwork installed since 2005, as well as additional information and photos of the artwork presented here, visit the Public Art section on the CTA's website.