Neighborhood Public Art in Boston

Ayah Aboelela


Boston is home to a rich variety of publicly displayed art, spanning from the colonial era up to now. Multiple organizations in Boston are committed to collecting information

on the city’s rich public art, including the Boston Arts Commission, the City of Boston Office of Arts and Culture, the Boston Public Library, the Monument Lab, universities, museums, and individual Boston-based artists. The Boston Research Center aims to consolidate the information from these different sources so that artists, researchers, and community members can easily access, navigate, and add to this

data, which will continue to grow over time. The goal is to engage with the Boston community, creating a platform where Boston community members can all take part in recording and researching the city’s public artwork.

To do this, we developed two main components for our project. One is the Neighborhood Public Art in Boston WikiProject hosted on Wikidata, which is the platform we use to organize the data and is open for all to view, edit, and add to. In addition to being easily accessible to the public, it allows for the organization of multiple attributes for each artwork and artist. These include images, location, dates founded and/or demolished, funding schemes, the material of the artwork, the biographical information of the artists, and others. 

A bronze sculpture of Harriet Tubman leading a group to the north. Created in 1999 at Harriet Tubman Park in Boston's South End by Fern Cunningham, this is the first public sculpture in Boston on city-owned land depicting a woman. In the sculpture, Harriet Tubman appears to be striding and holds a bible in her right arm. Her left arm is held out as she leads theway. Behind her, five men and women of various ages appear to be mid-stride. One young woman with braids and a dress leans her head on a man's shoulder, whose free hand reaches into his satchel. The other people appear to be looking calmly in different directions.

The second component of our project is the public art map, which is hosted on the BRC’s Neighborhood Public Art website and displays the data stored in the WikiProject. Created using Leaflet.js, an open-source JavaScript library for interactive maps, this map was designed to be interactive, allowing users to search and filter for different artworks.

Initially focusing on Roxbury, South End, Chinatown, and East Boston, we want to particularly emphasize artwork in Boston’s historically underserved communities and highlight Boston’s rich and diverse history of public art. Learn more about the project at our website,