WID Partners with City of Madison to Bring Science Art to City Streets

A new collaborative project from the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (WID) and the City of Madison is connecting UW–Madison scientists with artists to design science-themed murals around the city. The murals, featuring molecular structures, big data and precision medicine, the diversity of scientists, and more, are intended to spark interest in science, especially in young people and underserved communities. The first murals are being painted starting Oct. 12 amid the project’s launch festival, which runs through Oct. 18.

Ginger Ann
Ginger Contreras

The project, titled “Science to Street Art,” is led by Ginger Contreras, executive director of WID’s Illuminating Discovery Hub. “This initiative is non-traditional, fusing science with street art as a means to change the way science stories are told. We are taking science learning off of the page and bringing it to the streets of Madison,” says Contreras. “By pairing this artistic powerhouse with STEM informal learning, we aim to celebrate and inspire learning within art and science through accessible, equitable, and diverse actions.

“Science to Street Art is a creative placemaking initiative pairing street artists with UW-Madison scientists to create graffiti science-themed educational murals throughout the city of Madison during the fall of 2019,” continues Contreras. “The aim is to provide non-traditional avenues for science literacy through the fusion of science and art. Mural locations prioritize underserved neighborhoods to re-energize community places and encourage exploring the outdoors with an emphasis on science.”

“Science to Street Art is a creative placemaking initiative pairing street artists with UW-Madison scientists to create graffiti science-themed educational murals throughout the city of Madison during the fall of 2019.”

Melanie Stimmell
Melanie Stimmell

The Diversity of Scientists mural will be painted inside the Discovery Building, which houses WID alongside the Morgridge Institute for Research and the Wisconsin Alumni Foundation’s Town Center. It will be painted by internationally-recognized artist Melanie Stimmell in consultation with UW geoscientist Dave Lovelace and Professor of Medical Microbiology and Immunology Laura Knoll. The public is welcome to watch Stimmell at work in the “Hub Central” area of the Discovery Building Oct. 12 through 13 and Oct. 15 through 18.

The artist and scientist details and painting schedules for the rest of the murals are available at go.wisc.edu/s2sa-schedule. The Science to Street Art Festival includes workshops and public activities in the Discovery Building and throughout Madison. Visit sciencetostreetart.illuminatingdiscovery.wisc.edu for details.

Science to Street Art is supported by the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, the City of Madison, the Evjue Foundation, the Wisconsin Arts Board, and Madison Gas & Electric and partnered with the Madison Metropolitan School District, the Madison Arts Commission, and the Robert F. and Jean Holtz Center.

Science to Street Art Workshops and Activities

Periodic Art – What is your favorite element? Design an element, and hang it on the community mural!
Science Chalk Art – Create science inspired art with chalk – the pavement is your canvas!
Science Art Live – View artists create science inspired aerosol art live on the top of State Street.


School workshops, in partnership with the Madison Metropolitan School District Middle Schools’ art and science classes (MMSD only):

Thursday, October 10th – Spring Harbor Middle School, Black Hawk Middles School and Cherokee Heights
Friday, October 11th – Whitehorse Middle School
Monday, October 14 – O’Keefe


Public Activities in partnership with the Wisconsin Science Festival:

Thursday, October 17th, Discovery Building, 9am-2pm – Periodic Art
Thursday, October 17th, Discovery Building, 9am-2pm – Can you draw a scientist?

Friday, October 18th, Discovery Building, 9am-2pm – Periodic Art
Friday, October 18th, Discovery Building, 9am-2pm – Can you draw a scientist?
Friday, October 18th, State Street, 6pm-9pm – Science Art Live
Friday, October 18th, State Street, 6pm-9pm – Science Chalk Art – the pavement is your canvas!

Saturday, October 19th, Discovery Building, 10am-3pm – Periodic Art
Saturday, October 19th, Discovery Building, 10am-3pm – Can you draw a scientist?
Saturday, October 19th, Overture Center for the Arts, 9am-12pm – Periodic Art