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Un-monument | Re-monument | De-monument

This multi-year program, funded by a $3 million grant from the Mellon Foundation, will bring temporary public art installations and free programming to the city.

What is a monument? Who do we choose to memorialize? How can our public spaces reflect what is important to us?

We’re collaborating with artists, local arts organizations, and community members to imagine ways of commemorating the people, places, and events that are important to our communities.

“Un-monument | Re-monument | De-monument: Transforming Boston” (or “Un-monument,” for short) will bring temporary monuments and free public programming to neighborhoods across Boston. 

This multi-year program will enable artists to promote a far more engaged, reflective, creative, and active relationship with the city’s landscape and built environment.

About

Across the nation, communities have been in the process of asking themselves how we should tell our stories through monuments.

Here, in Boston, we have had incredible conversations in our homes, with our friends, and with strangers. We listened to each other in our public meetings, even when we did not agree. We made significant changes to our commemorative landscape. 

We collaborated and planned for big new artworks that fill some of the gaps in our storytelling, such as The Embrace by Hank Willis Thomas, Chinatown Workers Statues by Wen-ti Tsen, and Journey of My Soul: The Legacy of Frederick Douglass by Mario Chiodo and Paul Goodnight. 

The Embrace

Photo of "The Embrace" and the 1965 Freedom Plaza by artist Hank Willis Thomas and MASS Design Group, courtesy of Skanska.

And, after extensive community organizing and public meetings, we deinstalled two artworks that did not reflect the curatorial vision of the City of Boston or the values of our communities.

We also commissioned temporary artworks and murals, including Rita’s Spotlight by Rixy, a memorial honoring Rita Hester, through the Transformative Public Art program, which supports artists in creating murals and temporary artworks that are socially responsive and experimental.

"Rita's Spotlight" mural by artist Rixy

"Rita's Spotlight" by Rixy, photo by Lee Hopkins

With that momentum, at MOAC we want to take a creative approach to our discourse on monuments, centering community, artists, and experimentation through temporary art, interpretation and education, public talks and engagement events. Artists are uniquely suited to pose difficult questions, challenge misconceptions, and question misrepresentations as they embrace different ways of thinking and provoke looking at our monuments and what they represent anew.

We are collaborating with partners across the City who have been deeply engaged in this work for years. Together, we are commissioning transformative art and temporary monuments and hosting free public talks and events.

Partnerships

In addition to the projects commissioned through our open call to artists, we’re working with local arts organizations to create opportunities for more perspectives to join the conversation.

Commissioning local organizations to expand upon the Un-monument program supports Boston’s creative ecosystem and allows for participation in this dialogue at multiple levels.

We’re also expanding this work through a partnership with Boston Art Review to research, write, and publish about monuments in Boston.

Additionally, Massachusetts College of Art and Design is working with us to create educational and interpretive materials, signage, and an online educational component for the program.

Advisory Team

As part of this program, the Mayor’s Office of Arts & Culture assembled an advisory team that provides thought partnership, weighs in on community engagement strategies, offer critical feedback, and more throughout the duration of the program.

The Un-monument Advisory Team is made up of business owners, academics, activists, non-profit organization directors, school leaders, educators, and artists from across the city.

Meet the team:

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