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A Guide to Public Art in South Bend, Indiana

The art scene is an important yet often overlooked part of South Bend, Mishawaka and some of our smaller communities. Vibrant murals dot the landscape. Some are easy to find and others are almost hidden in plain sight, like a beautiful treasure. 

Whether you're a local looking for more public art or a first-time visitor on the hunt for some Instagram-worthy backdrops, these are some of the best pieces of and places for public art.

Word of Life

It's impossible to have a discussion about public art without mentioning perhaps the most well-known mural in town. More commonly known as Touchdown Jesus, the "Word of Life" is one of the iconic landmarks at the University of Notre Dame

Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park 

Located on the south side of Notre Dame's campus, just to the east of the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art. It's a lovely place for a walk where you can browse several large sculptures.

Howard Park 

South Bend's first and busiest park isn't just for ice skating in the winter and walking along the St. Joseph River. "Joy in Every Season," a beautiful mural, graces the walls around the playground at Howard Park. There are a few other pieces to see as you explore the park too.

Raclin Murphy Museum of Art 

Opening in late 2023 on the south edge of Notre Dame's campus, the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art is sure to be an instant national attraction for art lovers. It will feature collections previously housed in the Snite Museum of Art and a rotating series of exhibitions and experiences.

South Bend River Lights 

Perhaps one of the most prominent pieces of art in South Bend, the lights start their dance across the St. Joseph River every night at dusk. It's quite a display as the water rushes past the "Keepers of the Fire" sculpture in the river. The river lights are best viewed from the Jefferson or Colfax bridges. 

Note that due to construction at Seitz Park, the interactive light forest is currently not on display. 

South Bend Museum of Art 

Located in side Century Center, the South Bend Museum of Art has been an anchor for the local arts scene since the 1940s.It features one permanent gallery and four that change during the year. 

Central Park 

Mishawaka's flagship park has several pieces of art. Perhaps the most notable is a sculpture called "Circle of Life" on the river walk.