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UrbanArts, Inc. Records

 Collection — Container: Records
Call Number: FA 2015.02

Scope and Contents

The UrbanArts Institute is an independent, non-profit organization 501(c) (3) affiliated with Massachusetts College of Art and Design. An award winning non-profit, UrbanArts has a thirty-year history of managing and implementing temporary and permanent works of public art and design. The collection provides a comprehensive history of the public art activities of Boston and is a vital resource for scholars and historians of public art administration, urban planning, and contemporary Boston history.

The UrbanArts Records are comprised of visual materials such as photographs, slides, negatives, contact sheets, and samples of artwork, as well as administrative records such as business correspondence, publicity (posters, pamphlets, flyers, published reports, manuscripts and galleys), artist contracts, and annual reports. There are newspaper clippings documenting the activities of the institute, and a small amount of oversized materials. There is a small amount of AV material: audiocassettes of oral history interviews documenting the Orange Line, as well as VHS recordings of various public arts projects.

The collection is made up of 113 boxes sepeterated into four series: Adminstration, Programming and Project Files, Publications and Publicity, and Oversize Material.

The administration series (1970-2012) contains general program files, director's files, financial files, grant research files, and board of director's files. It primarily contains correspondence, financial, and grant information, including applications for grants, acceptance and rejection letters, and monthly project updates for grant-funded projects. It also contains agendas and meeting minutes from Board of Director's meetings, as well as correspondence and administrative files for UrbanArts founder and director, Pamela Worden.

Programming and Project Files (1974- 2012) covers administrative, correspondence, and grant information for the Arts in Transit, the Central Artery Project, and YouthWorks/Art Works programs, as well as smaller, individual projects. These files contain photographs, slides, negatives, contact sheets, AV material, artist contracts, publicity, and other administrative information about each project.

Publications and Publicity (1980-2004) contains newspaper clippings and press releases related to public art and UrbanArts, Inc. It includes clippings from local newspapers and newsletters, including The Boston Ledger, Southwest Corridor News, the Harvard Advocate, Cambridge Chronicle, Jamaica Plain Art News, The Boston Globe, Boston Phoenix, and The Boston Herald, among others. It also contains publication preparation files, which include drafts of reports, photographic prints of images used in publications, author biographies, and film negatives.

The Oversize Materials (1980-2002) Series also covers works that do not necessarily fit into other catergories in addition to oversized material. It includes VHS tapes of TV news segments about public art projects, audio cassettes of radio interviews, and oversized materials including copies of posters and handouts from UrbanArt events.


  • 1970-2014
  • Majority of material found in 1980-2014
  • Other: Date acquired: 08/29/2013

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Items in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. In most cases, the Boston Public Library does not hold the copyright to the items in our collections. It is the sole responsibility of the user to make their own determination about what types of usage might be permissible under U.S. and international copyright law.

Biographical / Historical

UrbanArts, Inc. is a not-for-profit public arts agency in Boston, Massachusetts. Founded in 1980 by Pamela Worden, the UrbanArts mission has been based on the belief that the cultural vitality of communities depends on incorporating the arts in the public realm, by engaging artists and citizens. The alliance in 1999 of UrbanArts with the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, provides a unique and revitalized platform from which to promote this ideal. It has been widely recognized for its important contribution to the revitalization of urban America. Award citations from the American Institute of Architects, the US Department of Transportation, the President's Commission of the Arts and Humanities, the Boston Society of Architects, and the City of Boston have recognized the high quality of art produced as well as the unique way in which UrbanArts engages communities in the design process, encouraging citizens to become full players in planning for the future of their communities.

UrbanArts has designed and managed projects for the City of Boston, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, the Massachusetts Highway Department, the Massachusetts Port Authority, and countless neighborhood organizations. In addition, UrbanArts maintains the largest and most diverse artists slide registry in the region. Notable projects undertaken by UrbanArts include "Arts in Transit," installing public art works in the Southwest Corridor of the Orange Line MBTA route, "YouthWorks/Art Works" programs, providing children and young adults in Boston with the opportunity to work with professional artists and experience art in new ways, and the Central Artery "Artery Arts" Project, installing public artworks into the highway infrastructure and the pedestrian environment.

In 1994 UrbanArts was the recipient of a Commonwealth Award, and in 1995 received an  Institute Honors award from the American Institute of  Architects, presented for “distinguished achievements that  benefit the environment and the architectural profession,”  noting in particular UrbanArts’s strong advocacy for citizen  participation in the city design process and its role as a liaison  between the public and those who make public policy.  UrbanArts led the artist selection for South Boston Maritime Park,  which won a National Honor Award from the American Society of  Landscape Architects in 2006. In 2007 Americans for the Arts  granted a Year in Review award for the Honan-Allston Library Bike Rack and Tree Guards project.

UrbanArts is supported in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency supporting the arts, humanities, and sciences.


300.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The records were inventoried and arranged into four series prior to donation to the Boston Public Library by Paul Dobbs, Library Director at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and Matthew Hincman, Associate Professor at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. The collection was further arranged chronologically within each series during the creation of this finding aid. The collection is made up of 113 boxes sepeterated into four series: Adminstration, Programming and Project Files, Publications and Publicity, and Oversize Material.

Source of Acquisition

Massachusetts College of Art

Method of Acquisition


Processing Information

Margaret Phalen, under the supervision of Eve Griffin, 2014

Processing Information

This electronic finding aid is transcribed from legacy data. In many cases, transcriptions were not verified against collection materials at the time of transcription. As a result, this finding aid could be incomplete and might only reflect a partial understanding of the material.

Statement on harmful description

Archival description reflects the biases of time periods and cultures in which it was created and may include direct quotations or descriptions that use inappropriate or harmful language. Creator provided descriptions may be maintained in order to preserve the context in which the collection was created and/or used. Legacy description and potentially offensive content may be made available online until a collection can be reprocessed because the access that they provide to primary source materials is uniquely valuable to the research community at large. Our efforts to repair outdated descriptions and to describe our collections more equitably are iterative and ongoing.
UrbanArts, Inc. Records
Margaret Phalen, under the supervision of Eve Griffin, 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

About this library

Part of the Boston Public Library Archives & Special Collections Repository

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