'The Public Purse' – Melbourne, Australia - Atlas Obscura
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'The Public Purse'

This giant, granite purse is one of Melbourne's most unique and distinctive pieces of public art. 

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It normally might take the eagle-eyed to spot a purse on the ground in the center of a busy city, but the size of “The Public Purse” makes it hard to miss. 

In January 1994, the City of Melbourne ran a campaign for submissions for unique street seating. This unusual, large purse made of granite and stainless steel was designed by Simon Perry. It sits as a symbol of the Melbourne Central Business District as both a commercial hub and shopping destination. Perry himself said of his work that it “signifies an interaction between the city and citizens, the public and the private.”

The work of art was unveiled to the public on September 12, 1994, and has since become a quirky favorite of many Melbourne residents. The seat acts as a place for tired shoppers to rest their legs. Visitors may find tourists trying to open the purse to check for any treasures inside but unfortunately, it is sealed shut. 

Know Before You Go

The Public Purse is situated in the heart of Melbourne's Central Business District. It lies on the corner of Bourke Street and Elizabeth Street.

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