See It While You Can: Outdoor Artworks to Explore This Fall

Make the most of Boston’s public art, and roam through these installations before temperatures dip below freezing.

Bold, conceptual, and often interactive, public art has the power to define a city. Outdoor installation offers such a unique opportunity for communal esteem, we sometimes wonder why the MFA insists on housing its collection in carefully monitored, climate-controlled galleries. That said, lounging on a blanket and staring at sculpture sounds less appealing when the temperature dips below freezing.

Below are several attractions best enjoyed before winter—some of them are leaving with the change of season, and those that remain won’t quite be the same when buried under several feet of snow.

courtesy photo

Photo of illuminated swings on Lawn on D / courtesy photo

The Lawn on D

For those of you who’ve yet to experience D’s peerless union of art/park/bar/family barbecue, there’s still time. Mosey on over, grab a slice from a food truck, take a ride on the illuminated swings, and play a game of giant Jenga with a stranger. And its current art installations—including Tom Wojciechowski’s series of PVC prints—will remain through the beginning of October, as will its series of Friday afternoon concerts featuring Berklee students. Additionally, on its final Saturday, the Lawn will be hosting its second “Punkin’ Fest,” where kids can carve their own pumpkin and add it to a massive sculpture that will remain throughout the final days of the season.

Free, open daily through October 12, 7 a.m.-10 p.m., 420 D St., Boston,


Echelman sculpture / Photo by Melissa Malamut

Echelman Aerial Sculpture on the Greenway

By now you probably can’t remember how many times you’ve been caught in traffic beneath Janet Echelman’s twine behemoth, but now is the time to finally park your car and stare at one of the most dazzling pieces of art to ever grace our city. Noted by many kids as “that floating caterpillar by the Children’s Museum,” Janet Echelman’s aerial sculpture begs for an evening picnic beneath its wavelike motion, which is illuminated at night. The piece will remain on view through October 24, so that’s plenty of time to savor its beauty before the skies above the Greenway are once again empty.

Free, sculpture on view through October 24, Rose Kennedy Greenway, Boston, 617-292-0020,


Dock tattoo project / Courtesy photo

HarborArts Shipyard Gallery

This East Boston “gallery” weaves its wares into the fabric of a working shipyard. Most of the works adhere to this nautical theme—representations of fish, ships, and sea life abound. Each piece fits so well in its setting, that half the fun becomes spotting the art itself. You might even catch yourself walking right over some pieces.

Free, 256 Marginal St., Boston; for more info, visit


deCordova Sculpture Park

Tucked away in the rolling hills and trails of the deCordova’s 30-acre sculpture park, one can find sculptures from legends like Jim Dine and Nam June Paik along with newer works such as Monika Sosnowska’s Tower, a twisted mass of painted steel stretching over 110 feet in length. And for those who thrive on cold, The deCordova will be offering tours of its park right through the bitter end of November, and after that one can still take advantage of its year-round availability.

$14 adult admission, sculpture park open Wednesdays-Sundays during winter, 51 Sandy Pond Rd., Lincoln, 781-259-8355,

Photograph courtesy of Harvard

Arnold Arboretum / Photograph courtesy of Harvard

Arnold Arboretum

By now, we all know Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum as the ideal place to recover from urban fatigue, but many forget that among the near three hundred acres of greenery is an art gallery with rotating shows. This month, the Hunnewell Building is hosting a plethora of work from artists of Jamaica Plain Open Studios, work inspired by none other than the Arboretum itself.

Free, Arboretum open daily 6 a.m.-7 p.m., Jamaica Plain Open Studios show on view through October 18, 10 a.m.-5 pm., closed Wednesdays, 125 Arborway, Boston, 617-524-1718,

light of reason chris burden rose art museum brandeis

Chris Burden’s “Light of Reason” in progress. / Photo via Rose Art Museum on Instagram

Light of Reason at the Rose Art Museum

Inside Brandeis University’s Rose Art Museum, one will find several new shows, notably, LA / MA—composed of work from the likes of Warhol and Judy Chicago—creating a conversation between New York pop and their often overshadowed western contemporaries. Out in front of the museum, however, is another exciting collision of coasts: Composed of 24 antique lampposts, Light of Reason is one of the final works created by Boston-born artist Chris Burden, the same artist who gave the LA County Museum of Art its now-iconic Urban Light installation. Light of Reason is more than just a regal entryway. When the sun sets and the lamplights turn on, its pillars become the most alluring place to sit and chat, a Bostonian piazza. Shining even when the museum is closed and blending seamlessly into a winter landscape, this work begs viewing for all seasons.

Free admission; Wednesday-Thursday and Sunday 12-5 p.m., Friday-Saturday 12-7 p.m.; 415 South St., Waltham, 781-736-3434,

October 7, 2015: The post has been updated to reflect the correct location of Lawn on D.