Public Art in Newfoundland and Labrador

Living on the edge of North America, our population spent many years isolated from much of the world and in doing so, created a culture that’s one of a kind. And you can see that, not only expressed in the people, but in the rich, colourful environment we created around us. It’s in our architecture, our crafts, the names of our towns, and even in the way we built our roads – it’s all a bit off-kilter.

Warm and welcoming, fun loving and funny to the core, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are no strangers to self-expression. It shines through from their natural creativity, unique language, and knack for the arts. From traditional crafts, cooking, and toolmaking, to accordions, fiddles, and music, and a tangled tale or two in between, you’re sure to encounter our artists along your adventures.

Explore the history of our province through public art from coast to coast using the Business and Arts NL app Explore Art NL, featuring 112 outdoor murals, sculptures, and memorials. Here’s ten pieces to get you started.

Labrador

Makkovik Mural Project by Jessica Winters

Located at Frank's Store, Makkovik

Artist Jessica Winters set out to create a mural inspired by her community and the Inuit way of life. Located on Frank’s General Store in Makkovik, the mural pays homage to the Inuit’s connection to animals and nature.

Avalon

Making Fish Petty Harbour by Ginok Song

Located at Petty Harbour Town Office

On the Petty Harbour Town Office building you will find a mural dedicated to the women of the inshore fishery in Petty Harbour. While men went out to sea to fish, women were left ashore to tend to the many other tasks such as cutting, cleaning, and drying the fish in addition to their children and home life.

Great Fire of 1892 by Julie Lewis

Located on McBridge's Hill, St. John's

Throughout the downtown core of St. John’s you will find numerous statues and murals, including the artwork on McBride’s Hill remembering the Great Fire of 1892. What started as a small fire in a stable from a lit pipe igniting a bundle of hay resulted in devastating loss and collapse of a major section of the town, leaving 11,000 people homeless, $13 million in property damage (approximately $400 million in today's dollars), and the town’s structure forever changed. See if you can find the flame icon in the mural to locate the stable where the fire began.

A Time Statue by Morgan MacDonald

Located on George Street, St. John's

The sculpture was created to represent St. John’s designation as a Cultural Capital of Canada to celebrate the musicians, painters, wordsmiths, craftspeople, performers, and many other artists that breathe life into the city and people. Located on George Street, the hub of culture and entertainment, it honours three of the province’s finest artists: singer-songwriter Ron Hynes, pioneer of accordion music Wilf Doyle, and comedian and actor Tommy Sexton.

Eastern

John Cabot Monument by Hans Melis

Located at John Cabot Municipal Park, Bonavista

“O buona vista!” The first words declared by Italian navigator John Cabot upon his arrival on the island of Newfoundland, the area that is now known as Bonavista. Explore John Cabot Municipal Park at Cape Bonavista, where it is said Cabot first set foot in 1497, to see the statue and monument.

Great Auk Memorial by Todd McGrain

Located at Joe Batt's Point, Fogo Island

Located on the rocky shoreline of Joe Batt’s Point on Fogo Island you will find a five foot tall sculpture of The Great Auk commemorating their last known location. These flightless seabirds lived and bred on nearby Funk Islands where they were hunted to extinction in the 19th century for their meat and feathers.

Central

Botwood Murals by the Botwood Mural Arts Society 

Located on Water Street, Botwood

You never know what you will come across when exploring Newfoundland & Labrador. How about the largest mural in Atlantic Canada? The outport community of Botwood situated in the Bay of Exploits is home to The Botwood Murals Art Society, the creators of 13 large murals painted throughout the town by various artists highlighting the vibrant history of the area. The artwork celebrates everything from the province’s first airmail delivery, a detailed portrait of local hero and town doctor Dr. Twomey, workers laying railroad tracks, and an incredibly detailed illustration of Beothuk history and the story of Demasduit, a young Beothuk woman, pictured above. The entire town is an outdoor art gallery waiting for you to discover its stories.

Giant Squid by Don Foulds

Located at Giant Squid Interpretation Site, Glovers Harbour

The small community of Glover’s Harbour (2021 population: 55) is an unlikely home to a giant Guinness World Record Holder. In 1878, a 55-foot squid washed onto the beach, laying claim to the area as the site of the largest squid in the world, a mark that has yet to be beat. A life-sized statue was created in 2001 to honour this mammoth mollusk which you can see for yourself on the same beach it was found over 140 years ago.

Western

passing where to by Robert Hengeveld

Located in Woody Cove, Rocky Harbour

Passing Where To serves as a representation of resettlement, to preserve the memory of communities that have since been left behind. It was unveiled at the 2019 Bonavista Biennale and has since been relocated to its permanent home in Woody Point, Gros Morne National Park.

The Meeting of Two Worlds by Luben Boykov and Richard Brixel

Located at L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site

Travel back in time to where Vikings once stood over 1,000 years ago at L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the only authenticated Norse site in North America where the first Europeans reached the new world. The Meeting of Two Worlds sculpture symbolizes the historical significance of human migration and the meeting of different peoples and culture. There have been discoveries linking five different Indigenous groups to the area prior to the Vikings arrival and at least one group after their departure.

Share your photos of art with us on Instagram @newfoundlandlabrador and by using the hashtag #ExploreNL!

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