Hattiesburg is on Travel + Leisure’s Top 11 Cities list for must-see public art cities

HATTIESBURG, Mississippi (WDAM) – The town of One Pine Belt is making a name for itself around the world for its abundance of public art.

Hattiesburg is known as the central city, the birthplace of rock and roll, and now one of the best cities in the world with must-see public art.

Hattiesburg is listed as one of the 11 Best Places to View Public Art by an online travel and leisure magazine.

Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art Program and Promotion Director Kristen Brock says a lot of work has gone into Hattiesburg public art and it’s exciting for the organization.

“They’ve been listed in the United States, like New York and Miami. It is an honor to be listed with cities in a much larger metropolitan area. But when you look even deeper and you’re on our list with places like Berlin and Paris, it’s such an honor, ”she says.

Hattiesburg has over 40 large-scale murals, as well as smaller utility box murals across town.

Executives say being on the list is a testament to the community’s hard work and dedication to accessible art.

“The pandemic created a need and that was to get people out. Give them something to do. And so we really put our bets on murals as a community in 2020 and 2021 when we launched the public art trail. It really took off and people came from all over the area to see what we have here in Hattiesburg to offer, ”said Mayor Toby Barker.

When the Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art started almost 15 years ago, it focused on traveling sculpture exhibitions. Since then, art has exploded across the city in the form of sculptures, pop-up murals, rockeries and more.

“We have a plan to add three more murals to Hattiesburg, we really want to get into the communities, you know, further along Main and Mobile streets branching out from downtown Hattiesburg. Thanks to the utility box project that we have underway, we are entering phase three right now. We’re also going to move into more residential neighborhoods, ”says Brock.

The leaders of Hattiesburg hope to become “The City of 100 Murals” within the next five years and continue to attract artists and tourists to the city.

“A funny fact is that Google searches for a ‘public art route’, and it doesn’t search for a specific city, doesn’t list a country. If you go to Google and search for “public art trail,” Hattiesburg is the top three on the lists. So I think it’s been very helpful in showing us right now that public art is popular and people want to see it and want to see it continue to develop, ”said Brock.

Barker agrees that the growth of public art throughout the city is a crucial part of tourism and the expansion of Hattiesburg’s reach across the state and country.

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