Boston is home to world-renowned art institutions like the Museum of Fine Arts and the Institute of Contemporary Art. But there’s a lot to be seen outside the neoclassical walls of our revered art halls. Here are five underground (sometimes literally) art spots to add to your list.
Nestled on a residential street in Somerville, the Museum of Modern Renaissance showcases the vibrant murals of Russian artists Nicholas Shaplyko and Ekaterina Sorokina. The museum is actually the home of the artistic duo, who painted all the walls—inside and out—in a mystical, kaleidoscopic style they call “modern Renaissance.” Though they don’t have regular public hours, you can schedule a tour of the house, and they host many concerts, poetry readings, and art events throughout the year.
HarborArts is a 14-acre rotating public art collection located at the Boston Harbor Shipyard. The unique setting offers a cool juxtaposition between the gritty, working shipyard and the contemporary art pieces. The iconic view of the Boston skyline doesn’t hurt either. Artwork typically stays up for a year minimum and then rotates out, so there’s always new stuff to check out.
Mississippi’s restaurant in Roxbury has been closed for years. But what they lack in food service they make up for in graffiti history. The still-empty building has become an iconic spot for Boston’s best graffiti artists to tag. You’ll find early signatures from ProBlak, KWEST, DEME 5, and others. Many of these artists now have murals around the city. Mississippi’s provides an interesting lesson in the origins of some of Boston’s best public art makers.
Urbano Project is a community art studio using art making for social change and community activation. Though a lot of their programming is focused on youth development, they also offer an incredible gallery that displays powerful exhibits by professional artists. The space is not only an arts center but also a hub of social justice work, particularly fighting the gentrification of the Egleston Square neighborhood where the gallery is located. Get your art and activism fix all in one place.
Underground at Ink Block is an 8-acre urban park underneath an overpass between the South End and South Boston. The park is home to fitness classes, performances, a dog park, and 150,000 square feet of murals by local and international street artists. You’ll even find some of the graffiti names from the aforementioned Mississippi’s in the collection. If you’re looking for a unique photo backdrop or a very scenic yoga class, this is it.