It was a beautiful fall day on the Common for The Shaw 54th: Restoring the Memorial and the Dialogue on Race event at the Shaw MA/54th Regiment Memorial on October 15.
The Partnership: the City of Boston, National Park Service, Friends of the Public Garden, and the Museum of African American History, used this platform to engage and update the public on the upcoming project, set to begin in spring 2020. It was announced that the National Park Service, with input from the City and the Friends, selected Louis C. Allegrone, Inc. and conservators at Skylight Studios to lead the restoration process, which will see the memorial dismantled, restored, and reconstructed over a 6-month period.
Two exciting interpretive programs were introduced at the event. The first was an augmented reality app, which digitally recreates the memorial, allowing the public to take a virtual tour of the memorial and learn about its storied history from any location. The app was developed in collaboration with John Craig Freeman of Emerson College and Boston-based AR company, Hoverlay, Inc. You can download the app here.
The second will be a dynamic, life-size interpretive signage installation on Boston Common. While the monument is offsite, the area will come alive with over 900 feet of interpretive signage on the surrounding fencing, created and designed by Boston-based design firm Visual Dialogue. The scrim, in the visual style of museum panels, will feature the history of the Shaw 54th Regiment, the Civil War era, and the creation and history of the monument itself.
Liz Vizza, Executive Director of Friends of the Public Garden, welcomed the crowd and introduced the details of the restoration project to the public. Vizza encouraged the crowd to use this restoration as a way to think critically about where we stand today on the issues of race, freedom, and justice. Marita Rivero, President & CEO of the Museum of African American History, shared the history and significance of the 54th, highlighting the women who were an important part of the fight for equality and contributed to the Civil War effort.
Rose Fennell, Deputy Regional Director of the National Park Service, emphasized the National Park Services’ dedication to the Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial as a part of our nation’s rich history, and the fact that these soldiers wore the uniform of a country that, at the time, did not recognize them as citizens nor even acknowledge their humanity. Ryan Woods, Commissioner, Boston Parks spoke about the master plan process to re-imagine Boston Common, the nations first public park, introduced Danielson “Donny” Tavares, Chief Diversity Officer, City of Boston. Tavares echoed Mayor Walsh’s commitment to keeping the Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial at the forefront of Boston’s dialogue on race and social justice, noting its importance as a platform to discuss these timely issues.
A lively drum roll followed as the Partnership unveiled a preview of the life-size interpretive signage. Attendees were invited to tours of Boston’s Black Heritage Trail, and live-action demonstrations of the Hoverlay AR app.
The Partners are grateful for all the supporters of the 2019-2020 Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial restoration, programming, and activities.
Event sponsor: Steve & Cheryl Jonas
Cynthia and Theodore Berenson
Ann Merrifield and Wayne Davis
Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation
Four Seasons Hotel Boston
Barbara and Amos Hostetter
Harold Whitworth Pierce Charitable Trust
The Salah Foundation
Mr. and Mrs. John Winthrop
Media partners: WCVB Channel 5, The Bay State Banner