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Organization Summary – Akron Zoo

The Akron Zoo’s mission is to connect your life to wildlife, while inspiring life-long learning and conservation action.

We serve our community in the following ways:

  • by providing a safe place for people to experience nature and animals
  • through science-based education programs
  • being a strong partner to other local non-profits and organizations throughout Summit County
  • promoting sustainability
  • encouraging conservation actions

Project Overview – IlluminART

This special event will take place in the spring.  April 1 – June 1, 2024 from 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings and select evenings during Akron’s spring break.  The event will span a total of 21 nights.  IlluminART will focus on art, light and endangered species.  We have partnered with Project Holocene, an artist that will create 15 large illuminated wildlife paintings of endangered species.  To enhance the wildlife art, we have engaged a local artist who specializes in video projections.  There will be two video projections in the park along with the illuminated wildlife paintings.

As guests move through the park, they will enjoy the animals, wildlife art, food, drinks, rides and two projected shows that run on a continuous loop.

The Akron Zoo wants to collaborate with local visual artists who will create pieces to be displayed during IlluminART in the spring of 2024.  Pieces must focus on endangered species, nature and/or ecosystems.

Art pieces could include, but proposals are not limited to:

  • Sculptures of animals or plants created from recycled materials or plastic waste that have a lighted element included
  • Photographs that show the relationship between animals and people
  • Paintings or textile art pieces that show the patterns and texture of animal fur, scales or skin
  • Vinyl art featuring a collage of animals in an ecosystem
  • Lighted armatures of flowers, butterflies, dragonflies or spring plants
  • An outline mural that allows guests to color in the mural and can be erased after each event
  • A large piece that can cover the fiberglass caterpillar in Zoo Gardens

Project Specifications:

The following must be incorporated into the artwork:

  • Must be able to be outside and withstand inclement weather from rain, thunderstorms, snow, ice and heat.  At minimum, the piece must be able to withstand NE Ohio spring weather for the duration of the event.
  • Artwork should be free standing or easily framed or anchored in the ground.  Artwork should not be designed to permanently attach to an existing structure.
  • Art piece could be designed to last a minimum of 3 to 5 years with the understanding it will be outside for 4 months March – June annually.
  • If used, lighting should be LED and waterproof.
  • Must be manageable to lift and move by two to three people.
  • If it’s possible to be create in sections that can be easily taken apart and reassembled that would be preferred for storage purposes.
  • Must be able to withstand being touched by guests, our guests tend to be hard on things so the art piece should be durable to guests as well as weather.
  • If selected artwork must be completed and delivered to the zoo by February 19, 2024.


Please submit concepts and description of artwork no later than noon on September 20, 2023.  Submittals should include the following:

  • Name of artist(s)
  • Brief bio of artist(s)
  • Email address
  • Mailing address
  • Phone number
  • Website (if applicable)
  • 3 to 5 work samples in PDF or JPEG format (JPEG less than IMB each in size)
  • Concept and description of proposed artwork
  • Quote for artwork (The zoo will be accepting proposals of all scope and size ranging from $500 to $10,000.  Please note proposals will be selected with consideration to the zoo’s total event budget.)
  • Artist can submit in person by dropping of materials at the zoo’s reception office in the Welcome Center by noon on September 20th.  Submittals should be addressed to Linda Criss.  Office hours are 8:30 – 5:00 Monday – Friday.  GPS address 505 Euclid Ave, Akron, OH 44307.

Artist are encouraged to submit via an online form which can be found at: https://shorturl.at/bAMN6

If submitting through the form is impossible, artists can submit their proposal via e-mail to l.criss@akronzoo.org

Please title each file/image with artist’s name.

Selection Process:

A cross-departmental team of zoo staff who have been designing and coordinating the spring event will make up the selection committee.  Submissions will be received by noon on September 20, 2023.  The artists will be notified the mid-October 2023 via e-mail.



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