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Hattiesburg Solidifying Itself as a Global Public Art Destination

The Hub City has a lot to smile about these days!

Hailed by many as the birthplace of rock and roll, Hattiesburg can now add global public art destination to its résumé.

The Pine Belt city has been named one of the top 11 cities in the world with must-see pieces of public art by Travel + Leisure, an online news and media magazine. Hattiesburg joins the global cities of Paris, Melbourne, and Berlin as well as the U.S. cities of New York, Philadelphia, and Miami.

Kristen Brock, Programs and Promotions Director for the Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art, said a lot of work has gone into the city’s public art attractions.

“It’s such an honor to be listed with cities in a much larger metropolitan area,” Brock said. “Like New York and Miami, 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.”

Home to more than 40 public art installations, including murals, sculptures, and brightly-painted utility boxes, Hattiesburg has proven it’s committed to making art available to all its residents through the Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art.

The artworks are whimsical, thought-provoking, and colorful pieces that touch on topics like women’s suffrage, sports, wildlife, civil rights, and the city’s rock & roll heritage.

According to the magazine, street art has become widespread around the world, encouraged by festivals and in many places, promoted by local governments.

Which is exactly what Hattiesburg leaders have done.

Mayor Toby Barker said the city’s art journey began in 2020 and continued throughout 2021. He added that growing public art throughout the city is a crucial part of tourism and expanding Hattiesburg’s reach across the state and country.

“It really took off and people came from all around the region to see what we have here in Hattiesburg to offer,” Barker explained.

And there appears to be more art pieces on the drawing board for the city.

“Right now we have a plan to add an additional three murals,” Brock said. “We really want to get into communities…further out along Main and Mobile streets branching out from downtown Hattiesburg.”

Community leaders hope to become “The City of 100 Murals” in the next five years and continue attracting artists and tourists to the city.

This Public Art Trail map and brochure make it easy to find and enjoy the city’s art.


Written by Cherie Ward

Cherie Ward is an award-winning Mississippi Gulf Coast journalist with decades of experience in writing and photography. She lives in Ocean Springs with her husband and has two adult children who also live on the Coast.

Connect with her by email at [email protected] with story ideas or find her @cherieward on Instagram. She would love to hear from you.


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