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Boston Seeks Martin Luther King Public Art

Posted by MLK Boston ; Posted on 
Public Art; Visual - DEADLINE :  
Boston Seeks Martin Luther King Public Art



MLK Boston, in partnership with the Boston Art Commission and the City of Boston, announces a competition for a permanent installation commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s and Coretta Scott King’s legacy in the City of Boston, our nation, and the world.

BUDGET:  $3M-$5M

ELIGIBILITY:  All professional artists, architects, and landscape architects, or teams thereof, internationally

DEADLINE:  February 28, 2018

Project Context

Martin Luther King, Jr. expressed explicit hope that his legacy would act as a call to action in his sermon The Drum Major Instinct, delivered on February 4, 1968. A King memorial in Boston seems overdue given the issues and social justice Dr. King articulated and sought to achieve within the framework of the American civil rights movement. Today, the issues we confront as a nation–including enduring economic inequalities, labor rights, racial discrimination and injustice, provocations of white nationalists, issues of just war and fragile peace, and questions of immigration and nativism–make Dr. King’s words and deeds as urgent and relevant as they were in the past. Coretta Scott King’s words and activism have also retained their relevance in contemporary conversations on peace and poverty and underscore the continued struggle to recognize the voices and work of women in civil rights and human rights struggles.

The Kings’ example remains indispensable for reflecting upon the challenges of citizenship, activism, and service that current and future generations face in pursuit of a just society. At a moment when public memorials are questioned, it is time to elevate the landscape of public memory with a monument to this great family of leaders and share an underacknowledged part of Boston’s story.

Dr. King and Coretta Scott King spent formative and influential years in Boston, where they met as students. During this time, King received a PhD from Boston University in systematic theology, deepening his ideas on religion and politics, while serving as assistant pastor at Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury. A life-long musician, Coretta Scott received a degree in music education in voice and violin from the New England Conservatory of Music, later incorporating song and poetry into her important civil rights work. She was awarded an honorary doctorate from the New England Conservatory of Music in 1971 in recognition of her accomplishments. Dr. King maintained a significant relationship with the City of Boston, receiving critical support from local religious and political leaders like James Reeb, the Unitarian Universalist minister who was murdered during the voting rights demonstrations in Selma; depositing archival material for future research at Boston University; and in 1965 testifying before the Massachusetts Legislature and holding a march from the South End to the Boston Common’s Parkman Bandstand where he spoke on civil rights. Boston proves to be an essential part of the story in the lives of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King.


The location is to be determined but will be within the City of Boston. Additional thematic research on several possible sites and the Kings’ connections to Boston will be made available during the second phase of the project.


This memorial seeks to create a compelling call to action. The memorial is intended to inspire visitors to reflect on Dr. King’s life and the values he espoused, prompting each of us to consider how we can contribute to realizing his vision of an equitable and fair society. The memorial will also honor the contributions of Coretta Scott King, a civil rights icon in her own right, thus recognizing the crucial contributions she and other women made to the civil rights movement. Coretta Scott King’s and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s relationship to the City of Boston was rooted in community service, commitment, education, and activism, which are reflective of the needs and spirit of today’s Boston.


For more information about Dr. King and Coretta Scott King, see


This international RFQ is open to all artists, architects, landscape architects, or teams engaged with public art, site responsive design, project management, and construction administration. Artists from the Boston area are encouraged to apply.

Selection Criteria

The Artist demonstrates a history of competency in project management and construction administration of projects of significant scale.

The Artist has experience in proactive organizing and partnering with multiple, and possibly disparate, stakeholders with cultural sensitivity.

The Artist’s statement demonstrates an interest in social justice, resilience, and racial equity.

The vision for the project speaks to the memorial’s significance to Boston and responds to the Boston Art Commission’s Curatorial Mission to commission and approve innovative and transformative artworks that:

  • Engage the community,
  • Enrich and enliven the urban environment,
  • Are driven by a clear artistic vision,
  • Enhance the diversity of the existing collection,
  • Respond directly to the specific environment,
  • And possess durability appropriate to the lifespan of the work.

The Artist’s body of work shows a strong, clear artistic vision.

Selection Process

Stage 1: Request for Qualifications (RFQ)

Via Submittable, applicants are asked to submit:

  1. Artist descriptions, including bios, preferred pronouns, resumes/CVs
  2. Artist statement
  3. Project vision explicating artist’s conception of the memorial’s significance for Boston and its visitors from around the world, now, and in the future
  4. Past work samples with an annotated image list*
  5. List of references

*Please note that we are not requesting design work at this stage and will not review applications that submit design proposals.

Stage 2: Request for Proposals (RFP)

Up to five applicants will be invited to develop proposals to include a written project statement, visuals, models, schedule, and budget, followed by an in-person interview and presentation. These five applicants will each be paid $5,000 for work on their proposals. After review of the materials and candidate interviews, the Selection Committee will determine the winning artist.


  • Monday, February 5, 2018, 7-8pm EST:  Informational webinar on artist application process:  Google Hangout link available at
  • Wednesday, February 28, 2018, Midnight EST: RFQ deadline
  • April/May 2018:  Artist interviews (if needed)
  • May 2018:  Announcement of five finalist artists
  • May-August 2018:  Artist research and proposal development
  • September – October 2018:  Interviews, presentations, proposal exhibition, and public comment
  • November 2018:  Announcement of selected artist

QUESTIONS?  Contact Karin Goodfellow, Director of the Boston Art Commission at the City of Boston, at If you are submitting questions for the webinar, please include the subject line “MLK webinar question”.


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