Understanding the impact and value of temporary public art sculpture trails

John Thompson, John Day

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Temporary public art sculpture trails (T-Pasts) have been used for over 20 years around the world to fulfil a number of objectives. They can help to generate revenue for host towns and cities; they can contribute to place branding; they can provide entertainment for residents and visitors; and they can raise funds for designated charitable causes. They typically feature object characters that have a relevance for the host place and they invariably utilise the same operational model. They receive significant local publicity and various claims are made concerning their economic, social and aesthetic impact. But there is a case to be made that they are ‘hidden in plain sight’ as some people will walk or drive past exhibits without ever seeing them. In this article, we track the history of T-Pasts, categorise them into different types, examine their value for different stakeholders, discuss their various impacts and offer a conceptual impact model. We conclude the article with a discussion that contextualises T-Pasts in relevant themes, including place enabling and place building, and also the significance of the temporary element.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-208
Number of pages23
JournalLocal Economy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


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