Hattiesburg makes Travel + Leisure ‘Top 11′ list for cities with must-see public art

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - One Pine Belt city is making a name for itself globally thanks to its abundance of public art.

Hattiesburg is known as the Hub City, the birthplace of rock and roll and now one of the top cities in the world with must-see pieces of public art.

Hattiesburg is listed as one of the top 11 places to see public art by a travel and leisure magazine online.

Programs and Promotions Director for Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art, Kristen Brock, says a lot of work has gone into Hattiesburg’s public art and this is exciting for the organization.

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

Hattiesburg has more than 40 large-scale murals, as well as smaller utility box murals across the city.

Leaders say making 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 outside. Give them something to do. And so we really went all-in on murals as a community back in 2020 and 2021 when we launched the public art trail. It really took off and people came from around the region to come to see what we have here in Hattiesburg to offer,” says Mayor Toby Barker.

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

“We have a plan to add an additional three murals in Hattiesburg, we want to really get into communities, you know, further out along Main and Mobile street branching out from downtown Hattiesburg. Through the utility box project that we have going on, we’re starting phase three right now. We’re going to get into some more residential neighborhoods as well,” explains Brock.

Hattiesburg leaders hope to become “The City of 100 Murals’ in the next five years and continue attracting artists and tourism to the city.

“A fun fact is that Google search for a ‘public art trail,’ and it’s not searching for a specific city, not listing a country. If you go to Google and you search for ‘public art trail,’ Hattiesburg is the top three listings. So I think that that was very helpful in showing us at this present moment that public art is something that’s popular and people want to see it and want to see it continue to grow,” says Brock.

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

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