Romare Bearden's "Soul Three" (1968) is one of the artworks chosen by the Dallas Museum of Art. (image via

Romare Bearden’s “Soul Three” (1968) is one of the artworks chosen by the Dallas Museum of Art. (image via

Five American art museums and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) will mount a nationwide public art exhibition this summer. Art Everywhere will bring reproductions of some 50 artworks from the museums’ collections — chosen how else but through an online public vote — to billboards, subway platforms, train stations, and more, filling space usually reserved for advertising with art.

Billed as “the largest outdoor art show ever conceived,” Art Everywhere began last year in the UK, cofounded by businessman Richard Reed and his wife, Melinda, and funded by the Art Fund, Tate, and the UK out of home advertising industry. Inspired by the success of the program there, the OAAA “first reached out to the UK for insights,” Communications Director Nicole Hayes told Hyperallergic. “OAAA then contacted the five museum partners, who helped flesh out the 100 list of great American works of art.”

But can Bearden beat out this painting of "Cats and Kittens" (c. 1872/1883) by an unknown artist, selected by the National Gallery? (image via (click to enlarge)

But can Bearden beat out this painting of “Cats and Kittens” (c. 1872/1883) by an unknown artist, selected by the National Gallery? (image via (click to enlarge)

Those five museum partners are the Art Institute of Chicago, Dallas Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, and the Whitney Museum — all institutions with strong American art holdings. “They wanted it to be representation of major museums across the country with strong American collections,” National Gallery Chief of Press and Public Information Deborah Ziska explained. Each museum was responsible for choosing 20 pieces from its collection, making for 100 total choices for online voters. They range from the more obvious Warhols and Lichtensteins to a recent Cindy Sherman society portrait (the Whitney), a Margaret Bourke-White Depression-era photograph (AIC), or a 19th-century Henry Inman portrait of No-Tin (Wind), a Chippewa chief (LACMA). (Although a 19th-century painting of cats and kittens by an unidentified artist, [seen at left] may prove a strong contender.)

Over the next month, online visitors may register and place 10 votes each. The final 50 selected artworks will be announced on June 20, and the exhibition will hit outdoor advertising spots on August 4, remaining on view for four weeks. Viewers will be able to access information about the works on-site via the Blippar app. Hayes told Hyperallergic that all of the spaces have been donated without sponsorship arrangements or branding by OAAA partners, many of whom have also offered cash donations to help fund the program.

“We’re happy to be part of the Art Everywhere US initiative; it’s truly an unprecedented opportunity to take reproductions of great American art literally out into the streets, all across the country,” said Walter Petersen, director of public affairs at the Art Institute of Chicago. “As a nationwide celebration of our nation’s artistic legacy, each of the five museums and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America want to inspire the general public to continue their explorations of American art and seek out the originals in person.”

“It’s a good extension of what we already do,” said NGA’s Ziska. “This is going to be art everywhere for free — it’s something we [NGA] already do in Washington every day.”

Jillian Steinhauer is a former senior editor of Hyperallergic. She writes largely about the intersection of art and politics but has also been known to write at length about cats. She won the 2014 Best...

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