in the Public Realm
Boston, Massachusetts - Landmaking from 1630 - Present Day

Mapping controls our perception and impacts the way we understand our environment. In the past, the map itself was a precious object. Used by property owners to define boundaries, by the military to fight wars, by explorers for navigation, and by municipalities to fight fires - the embodied an extraordinary investment of time and resources that gave the owner the power to shape the world. With technological advances like GIS, Google Maps and smart phone technology, the relationship between the map and its user changed dramatically. No longer a precious object, new maps are generated constantly and instantaneously. Access has been expanded from several hundred to millions. Even the ownership and creation of maps has shifted toward the user with the advent of customization and consumer input. This new technology marks a fundamental shift not only in the map as object but also in its power to influence perception.

Map-making is an exercise in choice. The vast information available on a given site’s historical and cultural make-up presents a unique and challenging task: how to capture the essence of a place and communicate that intangible quality to an audience. By definition, the process necessitates a curatorial and selective approach. Layering, comparison and mash-up are effective tools, juxtaposing historical data with current cultural trends, but even complex data is limited to what the mapmaker's can feasibly incorporate. Before the internet, a map was an object frozen in time by the printing process, the mapmaker's choices fixed permanently in place. Today, instantaneous access to a mobile database — the app — has fundamentally altered this problem. Choice, while still a curatorial exercise, is no longer static: it is a dialogue between the city, the user and the mapmaker.

Many cities and organizations are embracing this wealth of digital technology to make their environments more accessible. Downloadable maps are readily available to the casual tourist, cell phone tours have proliferated in the historical districts, and QR codes are plastered on the side of buildings and products, all in an attempt to engage both the visitor and the resident in the built environment. cultureNOW has collapsed these tools into one seamless program, allowing the user to navigate a city with text, photos and audio at their fingertips.

This exhibition views Boston through the lens of cultureNOW’s Museum Without Walls. Merging historical data with the power of smartphone technology, the gallery highlights Boston's development, while also capturing the city in the moment. It allows the user to meet some of the artists, architects, historians, planners and visionaries who have shaped Boston, and in so doing, understand the shape of Boston itself. Like the Museum Without Walls, this map is a work in progress. In conjunction with the cultureNOW app, it is part of the continuous process of defining a city. As cultureNOW expands its database and deepens its understanding of Boston, this map will change and adapt. This is a snapshot of BostonNOW.

Curated by:
Abby Suckle FAIA
Ingrid Bengtson
Sayli Korgaonkar
Eduardo M. Llinás-Meseguer
Josh Schecter
David Giglio
Juliet Gensemer
Anna Heineman
Advisory Council:
Franziska Amacher AIA
Lawrence A. Chan FAIA
Karin Goodfellow
Mark Favermann
David Fixler FAIA
Alex Krieger FAIA
Peter Kuttner FAIA
John Powell
Scott Simpson FAIA
Jane Weinzapfel FAIA
Peter Vanderwarker
Eric White

Collaborating Organizations:
American Institute of Architects, NY Chapter
Boston by Foot
Boston Art Commission
Boston Harbor Assocation
Boston Harbor Island Alliance
Boston Preservation Alliance
Boston Society of Architects
Cambridge Art Council
Fenway Alliance
Harvard University Graduate School of Design
MIT Public Art
MIT SENSEable City Lab

With Special Thanks To:
Alex Anmahian  •   Ann Beha FAIA  •   B.K. Boley AIA  •   Fred Brink  •   Lance Brown FAIA  •   Robert Campbell FAIA  •   Harry Cobb FAIA  •   Andrew Cohen  •   Arthur Cohen  •   Preston Scott Cohen  •   Lee Cott  •   Katelyn Cotter  •   Emily Curran  •   Howard Elkus FAIA  •   Terri Evans  •   Tory Fair  •   Ann Feineman  •   Robert Fleming  •   Beth Galston  •   Urs Gauchat  •   Dimitri Gerakaris  •   Shauna Gillies Smith  •   Jane Goldman  •   Roger Goldstein FAIA  •   Stephanie Greenfield  •   Graham Gund FAIA  •   Frances Gretes  •   Jason Hart  •   Mags Harries  •   Brian Healy  •   Lajos Heder  •   Thomas M. Hotaling AIA  •   Eric Höweler AIA  •   Sarah Hutt  •   Steven Imrich AIA  •   Chris Johns  •   Joyce Koslow  •   Kathy Kottaridis  •   Yugon Kim  •   Rick Kobus FAIA  •   Michelle Laboy AIA  •   Christina Lanzl  •   David Lee FAIA  •   Andrea Leers FAIA  •   Mara Lippman  •   Helen Lissack  •   Tim Love AIA  •   David Manfredi FAIA  •   Todd McKie  •   William Menking  •   Ross Miller  •   Mark Pasnik AIA  •   John Powell  •   Michael Kubo  •   Keith Morgan  •   Charles Redmon FAIA  •   Robert Roche  •   Charles Rose FAIA  •   Tamara Roy AIA  •   Warren Schwartz FAIA  •   Nancy Schön  •   Nancy Seasholes  •   Nancy Selvage  •   Douglass Shand-Tucci  •   Jorge Silvetti  •   Josiah Stevenson  •   Maryann Thompson FAIA  •   Peter Vanderwaker  •   Clara Wainwright  •   Carole Wedge FAIA  •   Jason Weeks  •   Heidi Whitman  •   Elise Woodward