Oct. 14 2015 11:30 AM

517 Artsearch brings public art to your smartphone

During Thursday’s placemaking summit, the Arts Council of Greater Lansing rolled out its new smartphone app, 517 Artsearch. The app is designed to help people find and learn more about public art in the tri-county area.

Courtesy image

Deborah Mikula, executive director of the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, said that as her staff started to compile the list of public art pieces, even she was surprised at the number of works.

“People need to realize how many pieces of public art are in the area,” she said. “We want to make sure people won’t ignore them and can learn more about them.”

The public art information was compiled by the arts council, and Old Town-based media company Message Makers developed the app. 517 Artsearch is location-based, giving the user a list of nearby public art pieces and galleries based on the user’s GPS coordinates.

“The app will generate (a list) based on where you are physically standing,” said Mikula.

From the list, users can tap on any listing for more information, including a picture of the piece, the name of the artist, the piece’s location, its distance from the user and a brief description of the work and its history.

“When you know the story, the art becomes more significant,” Mikula said.

From the listing, another tap takes you to a compass that directs the user to the piece, and one more tap sends the location to the smartphone’s map app, allowing the user to get turn-by-turn directions to the piece.

Mikula noted that the app has some of Lansing’s newest art pieces — including “The Worker,” a 22-foot-tall scrap metal sculpture near the corner of Shiawassee and Cedar streets — but that the app is “ever evolving.” Users are encouraged to submit new or unlisted works at the app's website, 517artsearch.com.

The app is available on Apple and Android platforms and download links are available from the website.

Mikula hopes that the app will encourage Greater Lansing residents to get out and explore the wide variety of public art in the area.

“We hope people recognize that we’re making our community a vibrant place,” she said.