MFA, ICA, More Offer Free Admission, Special Events for Boston Marathon One-Year Anniversary

The city's cultural institutions are opening their doors and hosting special events this week and next.


“To Boston with Love” at the MFA / Photo Provided

To commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, many cultural institutions around Boston will open their doors to the public for free and host special marathon-themed activities. More than two dozen cultural establishments, including the MFA and ICA, are taking part in a collaboration with the #BostonBetter project, which seeks to promote community healing through the city’s many arts and culture hubs.

Here, a few standout events to consider checking out this week and next:

Concerts in the Courtyard and Other Events at the BPL

The Boston Public Library will host a number of special events in remembrance of last year’s bombings. Every day this week except for Tuesday, visitors can enjoy free “Concerts in the Courtyard,” concluding with two sessions from the New England Conservatory on Friday and Saturday (all concerts begin at 12:30 p.m. and take place in the library courtyard). Also at the library this month is “Dear Boston,” an exhibit of select items from last year’s Boston Marathon memorial at Copley Square. Also this month, the BPL will host a talk with photographer Joshua Touster (his exhibit “Aftermath: A Photographic Reflection on the Boston Marathon Bombings” is on view at a few locations this month) and Long Mile Home authors Scott Helman and Jenna Russell. For more on the BPL’s special events in honor of the marathon, visit

Related: What It Takes to Preserve the Boston Marathon Memorial

Free Admission on Tuesday, April 15

On the one-year anniversary of the bombings, the ICA, Old South Meeting House, the USS Constitution Museum, Gore Place, and Historic Newton will offer free admission. At the ICA, see current exhibits including Nick Cave’s “Soundsuits” and Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg’s “A World of Glass.” At the USS Constitution, visitors can write thank-you notes to local police and medical personnel. In addition, at the Davis Museum at Wellesley (always free) join in a “Day of Community and Reflection” and make origami hummingbirds that will be displayed along Route 135 during this year’s marathon.

Free Admission to the MFA on Saturday, April 19

In addition to the Museum of Fine Arts’ regularly extensive collection, visitors this month will see the return of “To Boston with Love” in the Shapiro Family Courtyard. The large collection of colorful hand-sewn cloth flags comprises some 1,700 pieces sent from quilters around the world to Boston last year. The concept relates to a quote about quilting: “Our lives are like quilts—bits and pieces, joy and sorrow, stitched with love”—fitting, considering the MFA’s latest exhibit, “Quilts and Color.” During Saturday’s free “To Boston with Love Community Day,” visitors can also contribute to the “America 4 Boston Prayer Canvas,” a special project to be unveiled at the Red Sox game on Sunday, April 20.

Outdoor Concert at Faneuil Hall on Saturday, April 19

Reverse Order and The Sugarbabies Band will perform songs at Faneuil Hall to commemorate the 2013 bombings. Reverse Order will play “Our City,” and The Sugarbabies Band, a group of Berklee scholarship students and alumni, will perform “So Good (The Boston Song)” and “Beat As One.” The spring concert takes place from noon to 5 p.m. For more info, visit

Free Admission to the Mary Baker Eddy Library on Monday, April 21

The Mary Baker Eddy Library will be free and open to the public on Marathon Monday next week. Visitors can check out the famous Mapparium (a three-story stained glass globe) and the inspiring Hall of Ideas (state-of-the-art technology projects various words and phrases throughout the space).


For more events looking back at last year’s marathon, such as author and artist talks, visit