To foster national discussion about the issues surrounding public art, the Association for Public Art organized the conference Public Art in America ’87. Featuring more than 100 speakers, it was the first national, interdisciplinary forum to examine public art in its broadest context through the perspectives of politics, urban design, cultural anthropology, and the social sciences.

In 1987 the Association for Public Art launched Light Up Philadelphia, a study of the potential for creative urban lighting. The study investigated the history and future of creative lighting in Philadelphia and sought to integrate artists’ work into urban planning initiatives.