A publication of the Centre for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne


That sinking feeling . . . public art and its uncertain future

Melbourne has long been regarded as Australia’s cultural capital, but in recent years its vibrant arts scene has become the envy of cities around the world.


Tourists are flocking to the Victorian capital in ever-greater numbers, eager to sample its festivals, performances, exhibitions and many other hidden delights.

One of the things that makes Melbourne so fascinating is the public art that adorns its streets, from the stolid sculptures that dominate its squares to the edgy spray-painted designs splashed across its lanes.

There are concerns, however, that Melbourne’s success could be its undoing.

The city is in the midst of a construction boom, with new residential and office space needed to accommodate the tens of thousands of people arriving each year.

Some fear that this breakneck development poses a threat to the things that make Melbourne such an attractive place, including its public art. A recent campaign to save the Strata sculpture in Little Collins Street has highlighted the precarious future that many artworks face.


So should we be doing more to protect the array of sculptures, installations, monuments and murals that are part of Melbourne’s cultural legacy? Or is public art, by its very nature, ephemeral and transitory, a reflection of the ever-changing nature of the city?

John Cummins reports on Melbourne’s public art and its uncertain future.

About The Citizen

THE CITIZEN is a publication of the Centre for Advancing Journalism. It has several aims. Foremost, it is a teaching tool that showcases the work of the students in the University of Melbourne’s Master of Journalism and Master of International Journalism programs, giving them real-world experience in working for publication and to deadline. Find out more →

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