Official websites use

A website belongs to an official government organization in the City of Boston.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock or https:// means you've safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Opportunities for artists and community members to reimagine monuments with cultural leaders across Boston

 This multi-year program funded by a $3 million grant from the Mellon Foundation aims to celebrate creative possibilities through temporary monuments, free public events, educational programming, and engagement activities.


Mayor Michelle Wu and the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture (MOAC) today announced the launch of Un-monument | Re-monument | De-monument: Transforming Boston, a two-year investment in temporary art installations and free programming to help residents reflect on and engage with monuments in Boston and the narratives they create. Un-monument is funded by a $3 million grant from the Mellon Foundation’s Monuments Project. 

“Our City is filled with stories that are reflected in our various monuments,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I encourage artists to apply to not only add to the embellishments of the City, but continue to spark conversations about the narratives that art creates.”

The three opportunities are an open call to artists for temporary monuments, an application to participate in an Augmented Reality Artist Workshop, and an invitation to join an advisory team to provide community-thought partnership and offer feedback, connections, and recommendations for the duration of the Un-monument project. 

Through the call to artists, the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture is looking for proposals from artists or artist-led teams for new temporary monuments, as well as “un-monuments”—artworks that don’t take traditional monumental forms—to transform public places to reflect the city’s cultural vibrancy in dialogue with Boston’s collection of existing monuments. 

“With this program’s focus on temporary public art, our city and our communities have the flexibility to experiment with new ideas and explore new ways of approaching memorials, commemoration, and public memory,” said Kara Elliott-Ortega, Chief of Arts & Culture for the City of Boston. “We are eager to bring together curatorial partners from across the city who will help us realize this vision of commemoration that centers and celebrates the people, ideas, histories, and futures of Boston.”

Un-monument will include temporary monuments proposed in response to this open call to artists, developed and released by the City, and monument-related temporary public art installations commissioned directly by five community collaborators: Emerson Contemporary, The National Center for Afro American Artists, The North American Indian Center of Boston (NAICOB), Now + There, and the Pao Arts Center. Additionally, the Massachusetts College of Art and Design will collaborate to develop supportive educational materials, including interpretation at artwork sites and online, and recordings of oral histories. 

Un-monument is designed to inspire meaningful experiential public art and reconnect us with the joy of storytelling.​ This program​'s collective ​approach and multiple points of view​ echo real history​,” said Karin Goodfellow, Director of Public Art for the City of Boston. “We ​sometimes oversimplify real people and events and lose the relatable complexity of the past and the beauty of art​.​ Through creativity, community engagement, and critical discourse, we aim to transform Boston's landscape into a living memorial to our dynamic history.”

Working with The Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, the Friends of the Public Garden, and Embrace Boston, public conversations at The Embrace about democracy and justice will invite people to think about interconnections between monuments, public memory, and daily lives. 

“Monuments aspire to tell our stories of shared peoplehood, pay homage to our losses, and reflect society’s highest aspirations back to us,” said Dr. Brandon Terry, co-director of the Institute on Policing, Incarceration, and Public Safety at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research. “The hope is to remind people that memorialization is just the beginning of an ongoing conversation about what matters that we must all take part in if our fragile democratic experiment is going to reflect our most significant concerns.”

Artist Opportunity 1: Temporary Monuments

Proposals must be for new temporary monuments or “un-monuments” that are in dialogue with existing monuments. Projects may explore possibilities for future long-term projects. Potential artworks could include but are not limited to:

  • Temporary sculptural installations and interventions
  • Murals and re-creation or restoration of existing murals*
  • New media, including augmented reality 
  • Social practice and community-engaged cultural practices
  • Other, including interior installations or performances visible and/or audible freely to passersby in the public realm

*with permission from, or in collaboration with, the original artist if it’s not you.

Artist Opportunity 2: Augmented Reality Artist Workshop

Augmented reality (AR) proposals are uniquely able to respond to existing monuments without permanently altering them. To encourage AR project proposals, Emerson Contemporary will provide technical workshops designed to support ten artists in gaining access to the skills and technology needed to either translate previous work, or create new work, in the medium of AR. The goal of the incubator is to provide training opportunities for artists who have traditionally faced an “access gap” due to the high start-up costs of these design tools and the cultural barriers within the new media art field.

These opportunities are open to all artists, including individuals, for-profit businesses, and nonprofits. Project proposals must be artist-led.

"Emerson College is thrilled to be a part of this exciting new and innovative public art initiative to commission temporary 'monuments' across the city. Our participation in Un-Monument provides us with an opportunity to invite both local and national artists to expand the conversation around Boston's memorial landscape, while asking whose stories should or could be told and the many new ways we can share these stories with the public." Dr. Leonie Bradbury, Distinguished Curator-in-Residence at Emerson Contemporary.

Community Opportunity: Advisory Team

MOAC is also seeking community members to apply for the Transformative Art and Monuments Advisory Team as part of​​ Un-monument. Qualified applicants are Boston-area community members committed to the transformative growth of Boston’s public art and commemorative landscape. Educators, activists, artists, content creators, journalists, religious leaders, business owners, non-profit leaders and others are encouraged to apply.

The overarching goal of this program is to promote a far more engaged, reflective, creative, and active relationship to the city’s landscape and built environment and to engage in imagining the future of long-term monuments and their alternatives in Boston. As we consider our landscape, we will reflect on histories and peoples not memorialized, those who have been silenced, or are absent from the landscape of memorialization.

Un-monument would not be possible without the community collaborators: 

  • Boston Art Commission
  • Embrace Boston
  • Emerson Contemporary
  • Friends of the Public Garden
  • Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University
  • Massachusetts College of Art and Design
  • National Center for Afro-American Artists
  • North American Indian Center of Boston
  • Now+There
  • Pao Arts Center

There will be virtual Q&A sessions on Wednesday April 10, 2024 at 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET on Zoom. You can also submit written questions by email to

Artists interested in applying for Opportunity 1 must submit their application by Tuesday, April 23, 2024, at 5 p.m. ET. Applications for Opportunity 2 are due Tuesday April 16, 2024 at 5 p.m. ET.

Curatorial Collaborator Projects

As a way of reimagining and fostering discourse around Boston’s monuments and memorials in a way that centers and amplifies a multiplicity of voices, Emerson Contemporary is commissioning a public art campaign by Kameelah Janan Rasheed that will respond to various Boston monuments through digital and analog exhibition in transportation ad spaces. They will also collaborate with Historic New England, Friends of the Public Garden, and the City of Boston's Archive to host artists-in-residence as research fellows working with collections, archives, staff, and residents to highlight local histories relating to the history of Boston.

The National Center of Afro-American Artists in Roxbury will bring together Paul Goodnight, Robert “ProBlak” Gibbs, Robert Stull, L’Merchie Frazier, Laurence Pierce, Shea Justice, Hakim Raquib, and Johnetta Tinker to create an exhibition and forum at the museum, including new murals on the grounds. Entitled Cancel Violence: Artists Speak the collaborative project is anchored by two tenets: That artists have a responsibility to use their art for positive social benefits to their community, and that positive social change requires dialogue and engagement across the entire impacted community.

Building on over fifty years of advocacy for the urban Indigenous population of the City of Boston, NAICOB has proposed the reactivation of their building in Jamaica Plain as a monument through a combination of approaches such as landscape architecture, archival research, and visual art that will seek to remember the many stories and oral traditions among the Indigenous population, and further explore the deeper history of that site.

Now + There will present three works at Lot Lab in the Charlestown Navy Yard in partnership with the National Park Service by Ifé Franklin, Matthew Okazaki, and Hugh Hayden. The artists are responding to the theme of Presence by resurrecting, reclaiming, and transforming fraught histories unseen in Boston’s commemorative landscape with empathy, imagination, and community gathering.

Curated by Lani Asunción, Pao Arts Center will share a series of temporary public art and performance-based events that seek to uplift AAPI voices and experiences while considering how public interventions can inspire residents, visitors, and artists all sharing part in the efforts to preserve and celebrate Chinatown as not only a neighborhood, but a cultural hub and monument within the City of Boston.

To learn more, visit

About the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture

The Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture is a City agency that enhances the quality of life, the economy, and the design of the City through the arts. The role of the arts in all aspects of life in Boston is reinforced through equitable access to arts and culture in every community, its public institutions, and public places. Key areas of work include support to the cultural sector through grants and programs, support of cultural facilities and artist workspace, as well as the commissioning, review, and care of art in public places. Learn more at

About The Boston Art Commission

Working together with the Public Art Team in the Mayor’s Office of Arts & Culture, the Boston Art Commission (BAC) is an independent board of appointed volunteer art and design professionals that hold public meetings to review, discuss, and vote on matters concerning the City’s art collection. Aiming to commission and approve artworks that engage communities and directly respond to, enrich, and enliven the urban environment, the BAC fosters the creation and collection of artworks that reflect the people, ideas, histories, and futures of Boston, the traditional homeland of the Massachusett people and the home of the neighboring Wampanoag and Nipmuc peoples. 

Join us for a public meeting to discuss the future of public art in the City of Boston at

About The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. Learn more at

  • Last updated:
  • Last updated:
Back to top