Wikidata:WikiProject Neighborhood Public Art in Boston

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Neighborhood Public Art in Boston is an initiative supported by staff at the Northeastern University Library's Boston Research Center along with staff at the Boston Public Library. Information about public art in Boston is held at a wealth of organizations, and we hope to help gather this information in Wikidata to highlight the rich history of public art in Boston. We are particularly interested in highlighting the work of artists in Boston's neighborhoods, especially where public art works in support of historically underserved communities.

In Summer and Fall 2021, we started to build basic data about public art pieces and their creators, located in the South End, Roxbury, Chinatown, and East Boston.

Events and presentations[edit]


Create new items[edit]

There are a few different categories of items we want to create or improve to represent the Boston public art world. These data models should provide a good starting point, but are by no means prescriptive or complete. For all items, make sure to add on focus list of Wikimedia project (P5008) Neighborhood Public Art in Boston (Q108040915) so we can keep track of them. Our main focus is on works of public art and their artists, but we'd also like to add items for groups or organizations involved in public art (e.g., as funders or commissioners of works) and buildings, parks, squares, etc. where works in the collection are installed.

Improve existing items[edit]

Add references[edit]

For the works and artists currently on our focus list, add references to any unreferenced statements. See the Resources section below for some ideas of where to start researching.

Enabling the gadgets DuplicateReferences and currentDate is highly recommended! Open your account preferences, go to the Gadgets tab, and check the boxes next to DuplicateReferences and currentDate.

Property Value Value may be new entity? Usage note
reference URL (P854) URL of web page, finding aid or finding aid description, catalog record, etc. no
stated in (P248) item for reference source, such as Inventories of American Painting and Sculpture (Q32860787) yes optional, but recommended if source already exists as a Wikidata item (like the resources listed below) or if source will be used extensively
retrieved (P813) date when source was consulted n/a enable currentDate gadget for easier data entry

Add end dates (works)[edit]

Some of the works of art on our focus list are no longer be in existence or on display, such as murals painted on buildings that have since been demolished.

For example, Roxbury Love (Q108024624) was demolished in 2020 and its destruction was covered in the press. For many works, the removal date may be harder to come by. One approach, if you're in the Boston area, would be to go to the site of a work, verify that it's no longer there, and add dissolved, abolished or demolished date (P576) as an inexact date with qualifiers for latest date (the current date) and earliest date (the work's installation date).

Add coordinates (works)[edit]

For works that have street address (P6375) but no coordinate location (P625) yet, you can use use Google Maps or LatLong to find the latitude and longitude from the address.

Add biographical information (artists)[edit]

Add education and employment history via educated at (P69) and employer (P108) statements and qualifiers (see artists data model), membership in any community groups or artist collectives (e.g., African Latino Alliance (Q108038046)) via member of (P463).

Add images[edit]

Check if there's already an image of the item in Commons and add it to the item via image (P18). Update the structured data on Commons as well, to include depicts (P180) and the item.

Expand bibliography[edit]

Add annotations to bibliography[edit]

Some of the works currently listed in our bibliography were taken from older lists and may not end up being relevant to this project. Add some notes about each book to help other contributors determine if they're worth seeking out as references for this project. (See how these are currently formatted in the Bibliography tab.)

Create items for books (works and editions)[edit]

Create items corresponding to books that can then be used with stated in (P248) in references. See Wikidata:WikiProject Books for more information on creating book items in Wikidata. Add the Wikidata item corresponding to the work to our bibliography. (See how these are currently formatted in the Bibliography tab.)


Specific to Boston[edit]

Name URL (use more specific page URL in references whenever possible) Wikidata item to use with stated in (P248) Note
Boston Mural Map Story map of Boston murals, includes title, creator(s), street address, year, and funding information. Unfortunately, can't link to individual point on map as reference URL.
Boston Art Commission (archived site) via Wayback Machine Old website of the BAC, has some information on works by neighborhood. Unfortunately, the URL now (as of 2022-03-28, anyway) redirects to a Bitcoin trading platform.
"The 50 Best Works Of Public Art In Greater Boston, Ranked" WBUR-FM (Q7947483) List from 2016; in general, WBUR has a lot of articles covering public art in Boston
Popular Playgrounds and Parks in Boston List of parks by neighborhood; may be useful for adding/verifying sites for works
A commuter’s guide to art underground Recent tour of art in subway stations
Public Art from Now+There Now + There (Q108037537) Map of recent public art from a major area non-profit
Arts on the T Information about art in subway stations, includes links to lists of works on each line
Boston Youth Fund Mural Crew (archived site) via Wayback Machine List of murals created by BYFMC from 1992 to 2000 with title, neighborhood, location, and year; occasionally more info for individual works.
Art Outdoors Blog gathering photos and resources about specific works


Name URL (use more specific page URL in references whenever possible) Wikidata item to use with stated in (P248) Note
Inventories of American Painting and Sculpture Inventories of American Painting and Sculpture (Q32860787) Some works will have been documented as part of Save Outdoor Sculpture! survey from 1990 to 1995
cultureNOW E.g., Arthur Fiedler Memorial
Open Plaques Open Plaques (Q23018437) Database of commemorative plaques
Read the Plaque Another database of commemorative plaques
Historical Marker Database Historical Marker Database (Q21815238) Database of historical markers
Public Art Archive Public Art Archive (Q65560066) Map browse option may be the most useful, unless exact name of work known
MASA Crowdsourced database of murals and street art; shows artist names (and websites/Instagram accounts) and street addresses of works
Timothy Drescher: Community Murals Images of murals plus cataloging information (title, artist, date, materials). Requires JSTOR access.
Monument Lab Monument Audit Truly spectacular national effort to gather monument data across all 50 states. Only covers monuments, so not all forms of public art, and has some inconsistent data.
Street Pianos International project to install painted pianos in public places, including Boston



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