When the Sé Metro Station was inaugurate 34 years ago in São Paulo with its original artwork, the initial implementation of an idea developed from the time of the Company's founding in 1968 began: to transform the system's stations into underground art galleries and bring the public closer to expressions of influence. The art displays include sculptures by Alfredo Ceschiatti and Marcelo Nitsche, in addition to murals by Renina Katz, Cláudio Tozzi, and Mário Gruber. These artists were among the first to specialize in the production of public art and were essential in sparking the interest of other painters and sculptures. The trend gave rise to the "Art on the Metro" project, formally instituted in 1988, which established specific criteria for and organized the São Paulo Metro's contemporary art collection.
The intense demand for public artwork spurred the Metro to create the Art Advisory Board (Comissão Consultiva de Arte) in 1990, a body composed of representatives of the São Paulo State Art Gallery, the São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP), the Museum of Modern Art (MAM), the Brazilian Institute of Architects (Instituto dos Arquitetos do Brasil – IAB), the São Paulo Association of Fine Arts (Associação Paulista de Belas Artes – ABPA), and the Marketing and Architectural Divisions of the São Paulo Metro. The commission's function is to apply a detailed and consistent selection process for the purpose of choosing contemporary art projects and to adapt these for proper installation in public spaces of the São Paulo Metrô.
Over time, the project was refined, offering users and the public in general direct contact with artwork generally found only in museums and galleries. The initiative served to strengthen communications, reinvigorate relationships, and impart educational messages, as the artwork fostered respect and appreciation for the conservation of public spaces.
Today, the Metro's collection consists of 91 works of art in 37 stations, including panels, murals, canvasses, art installations, and sculptures by renowned artists, among them Aldemir Martins, Tomie Othake, Antonio Peticov, Denise Milan, and others.
The new edition of "Art on the Metro," completed in 2012, offers a comprehensive history on the system's rich collection, including a detailed description of each work of art. It provides a rare opportunity to experience the full range of artistic expressions, while demonstrating the extent to which the Metro strives to strengthen its relationship with commuters and São Paulo's population as a whole.