YOUNGSTOWN — A new version of Yoko Ono’s “Imagine Peace” billboard has been installed in downtown Youngstown at Wick Avenue and Wood Street [map]. It was installed by Youngstown State University’s McDonough Museum of Art.

Billboards urging peace have been an important component of Ono’s artwork over the past 40 years, beginning in 1969 when Ono and John Lennon placed “War Is Over! If You Want It” billboards in several major cities across the United States and Europe.

More recently, Ono transformed the “War Is Over!” message into the universally positive statement “Imagine Peace.”

Previous installations of this message featured the text in black Helvetica typeface on a stark white background.


This past winter in Washington, D.C., Ono unveiled a redesign of the billboard that places the white Helvetica typeface on a sky blue background with a cloud underneath the text on the left side. It is this design that is installed in downtown Youngstown.

This is the third Yoko Ono billboard sponsored by the McDonough, as part of the museum’s commitment to the artist’s work and message.

Previous billboards appeared in 2007 in support of the University of Akron’s exhibit “Yoko Ono Imagine Peace”; and in 2008, when the museum exhibited the “War Is Over!” sign as part of its exhibition “AGENCY: Art and Advertising.”


The McDonough is distributing pins that feature the design of the billboard. The distribution will run through the weekend of July 10-12, coinciding with YSU’s Summer Festival of the Arts, July 11 and 12. Quantity is limited.

On view in the McDonough Galleries is the exhibition “Rust Fest,” featuring the work of graduate students enrolled in programs in digital arts and new media from eight universities across the United States. “Rust Fest” will be on display through July 24.

Photos by Mikihiko Hori

Download: IMAGINE PEACE  Youngstown Billboard  (July 2009)

IMAGINE PEACE  Washington DC Billboard  (Jan 2009)
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