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After Accidentally Graffiti-Blasting Massive Murals, City Rolls Out Database To Protect Public Art

The Mural Registry was proposed after a series of high-profile incidents where murals were accidentally removed or painted over by city workers.

Hebru Brantley works on a mural in Wicker Park.
Alisa Hauser/Block Club Chicago
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DOWNTOWN — A new online registry will help Chicago preserve murals, street art and graffiti throughout the city — and try to prevent city crews from accidentally destroying them.

The Mural Registry was proposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) after a series of high-profile incidents where murals were accidentally removed or painted over by city workers.

The registry launched online on Monday, allowing Chicago artists and property owners to fill out an application registering their street art. If the application is accepted, the city will add the street art to the registry, protecting it, and will give an official emblem to the person who registered the work.

The registry will be searchable by anyone online and already has more than 100 works on it, with the art featuring everything from politics to cartoon characters. Entries list when the artwork was commissioned, where it’s located and what media was used to make it, among other things.

The city will host two informational sessions on the registry: one at 5-6 p.m. April 22 and another noon-1 p.m. April 30 at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St. The sessions will be open to the public and artists, organizations and property owners are encouraged to attend.

Credit: Lakeview Chamber of Commerce/Facebook
Artist J.C. Rivera paints a mural near the Paulina Brown Line stop in 2018.