The city has signed a contract with Australia-based artist Guido van Helten to paint the historic concrete silos and grain elevator in downtown McKinney.

In a Feb. 15 news release, the city announced that restoration work on the 100-foot-tall silos has begun in preparation for the mural.

Van Helten has a series of photorealistic paintings on silos across the country that has gained global recognition, the release said. The city originally announced the artist's involvement in the project last summer.

“Not only will this mural be one of the largest works in North Texas, but the international reputation of the artist helps build an attraction that spotlights our community," said Amy Rosenthal, director of the McKinney Performing Arts Center and McKinney Main Street, in the release. "It serves as a catalyst for development in a section of our downtown rich with cultural history and helps increase the visibility of our own local artists.”

The silo mural is one element of the revitalization taking place east of Hwy. 5. The project will serve as the backdrop for the city’s new Municipal Community Complex, which is in the design phase, according to the release.

The project will be funded through a combination of grants, private investment, the McKinney Public Art Fund and the city’s hotel occupancy tax, the release said. The Texas Commission on the Arts approved a $90,000 grant in September.

Van Helten is scheduled to visit McKinney this spring to learn more about the community before working on the mural, Rosenthal said. The city is asking residents to complete a brief survey online that will be used in crafting the artist’s visit.

A project timeline, information on van Helten and the community survey are available at

"Part of what makes this process unique is that [van Helten] will use photography and resident interviews to uncover human stories that will help him find a connection to this place,” Rosenthal said. “His final design will feature the stories and people of McKinney's diverse community."