The Friends of the Public Garden worked with Now + There on a public art project to celebrate the Friends’ 50th Anniversary and bring Bostonians and visitors together to consider what we have in common and how to care for our cherished public spaces.

What Do We Have in Common? by Janet Zweig was a 32-day, immersive experiential installation on Boston Common from September 22 – October 24, 2021. The installation began with a wooden cabinet near the Parkman Bandstand. 200 blue, illuminated markers waited within it, each carved with poignant questions such as “Who owns this park?” Over the month, Guides placed these illuminated markers throughout the park and the questions sparked thought-provoking conversations and reflections with the public on our shared responsibilities to each other and the public spaces we visit.

What Do We Have In Common? By The Numbers

The cabinet had 200 drawers, each with its own light box and unique question. Two drawers were opened each day and the illuminated boxes installed on the grass over 3 acres of Boston Common.

32 boxes had questions in 7 languages, and 73 people used the QR code to access audio questions.

There were a total of 12 guides, and 2 were available to engage the public daily from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. The project was staffed for a total of 288 hours. The guides each wore blue overalls that matched the color of the boxes.

The guides engaged with an estimated 3,500 people, and over 16,000 people viewed the art installation during the 32 days it was open.

The grand opening attracted 5 civic leaders to welcome the art and the people, with over 200 attending the opening.

Over 140,000 people were reached via social media on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and over 150 social posts included the project hashtag #InCommonBOS.