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From Our Blog

Boston’s Outdoor Art

Our city is world-renowned for its love of culture and a wealth of Boston public art is free to enjoy in our parks, gardens and walkways.

sculpture of duck and seven ducklings in park
Make Way for Ducklings Sculpture

Boston Common, the oldest city park in the country, is the perfect spot for outdoor activities in Boston. Just one block from the best hotel in Boston, the Boston Park Plaza, the Common offers a variety of public art. The Brewer Fountain, gifted to the city by Gardner Brewer, dates to 1868. Cast in bronze, it’s a replica of a fountain created for the Paris World’s Fair in 1855. Standing 22 feet high, it was restored to its original luster in 2010. A short stroll down the path from the fountain and another wonderful example of bronze work is the Declaration of Independence Tablet. Created in 1925 to honor the 250th anniversary of our country’s independence, it depicts the Founding Fathers on the day of their historic accomplishment. The Boston Common’s other famous bronze sculpture is the Shaw Memorial, proclaimed by The National Gallery of Art as the “greatest sculpture of the 19th century”. It was unveiled here in 1897 on Decoration Day, now known as Memorial Day and honors the service of the legendary Massachusetts 54th Regiment during the American Civil War.

Brewer Fountain in front of the State House

There are so many things to do in Boston outside and visiting the Public Garden is one of the most popular. Adjacent to Boston Common, the Public Garden was founded in 1837. Not only does it offer an extensive collection of flora, it also includes numerous fountains and statues, many more than 150 years old. Perhaps the most notable is that of George Washington riding atop his horse. When viewing the statue set against the backdrop of our towering city center, it provides a distinctive view of our nation’s past and present. Another work of art, a favorite of young and old alike, is the Make Way for Ducklings statue. Created in honor of the famed children’s book of the same name written and illustrated by Robert McCloskey, it depicts a group of ducklings following their mother. The sculpture became an instant classic when unveiled in 1987.

Once you’ve visited the Common and the Public Garden, head west across Arlington Street and stroll along Commonwealth Avenue. This eight-block stretch of the city is rich with things to do and see, including taking in the many murals and public art installations. One highlight is the Boston Women’s Memorial. Among the women honored here is Phillis Wheatley. Originally from West Africa, she was sold into slavery in Boston from the ship “Phillis” in the late 1700s. When her “Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral” was released in 1773, she became a literary prodigy and the first African writer published in America. Other statues along the avenue include those of John Glover, Leif Erikson and Alexander Hamilton.

Boston Women’s Memorial

For contemporary public art, visit the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, a park that winds 1.5-miles through the heart of the city. Its public art vision is “to bring innovative and contemporary art to Boston through free, temporary exhibitions, engaging people in meaningful experiences, interactions and dialogue with art and each other.” Only a short, 10-minute walk from Boston Park Plaza, the Greenway’s stunning art and dramatic views of the city and inner Boston Harbor make for a memorable day.

Our city continues to keep its history and legacy of public art alive through many programs including “Paintbox”. Designed to recognize and celebrate local artists, the program makes utility boxes available for painting throughout Boston. Be sure to keep an eye out for these wonderful examples of local art as you explore our city.

And, for performance art, don’t forget to check out Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s Shakespeare on The Common.  Much Ado About Nothing will be performed July 20 to August 7, 2022.

For more information on how and where to experience Boston’s love of pubic art, please speak with one of our Concierges.

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