A special collection established in 1976 features works by many of the region’s preeminent artists.
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Each year, pending available resources, a panel of art professionals reviews Honors Program nominations and recommends artists for consideration. Selected artists have significant freedom to contribute existing work or create new work. They also choose the size, materials, and subject matter, and consult on potential display locations.
The King County Arts Commission instituted the Honors Program in 1976 as part of the Bicentennial Celebration. Its goal was to recognize, promote, and support established and mid-career artists while providing access to their masterworks in public spaces throughout the county, where visitors and residents can experience them as part of their everyday lives. The first four Honors Program purchases were initially installed at the Kingdome, the bygone Seattle stadium that opened the year the program began.
A single artist was selected for the Honors Program each year from 1976 until 1993, but budget constraints shifted allocations away from the program in 1994. It was reinstated in 2001, in conjunction with construction of the Regional Justice Center in Kent and a large expansion of Harborview Medical Center. Eight artists were commissioned for each facility, celebrating a new generation of creatives.