The project started in 2008 at the city-run art gallery, where the then Head of the gallery, Mats Nilsson and artist Lars Jonnson came up with the idea to showcase contemporary art in public locations. Contemporary art would be available for everyone – a whole new concept in the city, which would see some of the world’s most exciting artworks showcased outside the traditional norms of elitist art. The admission to the biennial, as well as the participation in collateral events is free.
The first edition in 2008 featured 71 artists, mostly from Scandinavia, whose works were exhibited anywhere from hidden corners downtown Örebro to shop windows, on rooftops or on the surface of river Svartån. In 2009, the confirmation that OpenART was becoming international came once the artist selection process begun.
Following a new political decision, OpenART became an organization of its own in 2013. It has since functioned as an independent project within the Municipality of Örebro. The event is realized in close cooperation with the City Art Gallery, Örebro County Museum and Konstfrämjandet Bergslagen.
About 80% of the artworks are exhibited outdoors, while the remaining 20% is showcased indoors. The venues vary from open spaces in the city center (parks, streets, plazas, buildings, river) to shopping malls, art galleries and museums. Therefore, artworks can be spotted in/ on /above the river that flows through the city, squeezed between buildings, hanging on rooftops, hiding around corners, in trees or on light poles. A huge focus is on large-scale artworks, that challenge the physical perception of the surrounding environment.