Free Public Art Around Boston that Will Blow Your Kids' Minds

Fog sculpture by Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya suits the "spooky" season. Photo by Melissa Ostrow
Explore these 10 family-friendly outdoor art installations in Boston this fall.

Boston has long been home to some of the best museums in the world, showcasing art from around the world. Recently, the city has acquired an extensive collection of free public art where families can get up close and personal with installations of all kinds. Some of these exhibits are permanent, while others are on view during the fall. Either way, crisp autumn weather provides the perfect backdrop for exploring public art throughout the city.

Fog envelops the Clemente Field Bike Path in the Fens. Photo courtesy of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy/Melissa Ostrow

1. Fog x FLO: Fujiko Nakaya on the Emerald Necklace—Emerald Necklace (Back Bay Fens, Olmsted Park, Jamaica Pond, Arnold Arboretum, Franklin Park)
When to see it: From 8am-7pm through October 31, 2018 (check website for specific times for each site).
About: Kids can literally immerse themselves in the five fog art installations created by Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya. The fog sculptures were designed to interact with Frederick Law Olmsted’s celebrated landscape and honor the Emerald Necklace Conservancy’s 20th anniversary.
Nearby: Explore more of the Emerald Necklace by taking a walk on this historic, scenic pathway through the city.

Come up with some melodies on the Musical Fence. Photo courtesy of The Pickup Music Project

2. Flying Horse Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit—Pingree School, South Hamilton
When to see it: Seven days a week during daylight hours through November 4, 2018
About: Come see more than 50 works of art in a variety of mediums (wood, bronze, resin, fiberglass and more) spread throughout the Pingree School’s 100-acre campus this fall. Kids will especially love the interactive, 25-foot-long Musical Fence created by Pickup Music Project of Somerville.
Nearby: After you’ve had your fill of art and walking around, sit down and sip a pint at Cape Ann Brewing Company in Gloucester.

Make yourself at home at Open House. Photo courtesy of Now + There

3. Open House—Commonwealth Avenue Mall, Kenmore Square
When to see it: Now through November 4, 2018
About: Boston-born artist Liz Glynn has transformed the mall into an opulent ballroom full of concrete-cast Louis XIV sofas, chairs and footstools. This is an interactive art exhibit, so kids can run through the furniture, touch it, and play on it to their heart’s content.
Nearby: Grab a bite to eat at the reopened Trident Booksellers and Cafe, which is a great spot for parents to dine while kids play.

Let kids play among some old-time signs as GLOW takes over the Greenway. Photo by Leslee/CC BY 2.0

4. Rose Kennedy Greenway Public Art—Rose Kennedy Greenway
When to see it: Varies by exhibit (check website for site-specific details).
About: The Rose Kennedy Greenway is home to a variety of temporary exhibits, which currently include the mural Carving Out Fresh Options as well as GLOW, a set of historic neon signs from around Massachusetts. These and the other Greenway art installations encourage interaction and play, which make them perfect for kids.
Nearby: Hit the nearby Christopher Columbus Park for more playtime and then grab lunch at the Boston Public Market.

See Lego sculpture without paying an entrance fee. Photo courtesy of Kari Jasus/CC BY 2.0

5. Gio the Giraffe—Outside the Legoland Discovery Center, Somerville
When to see it: Anytime, this is a permanent exhibit.
About: The 19-foot-tall giraffe constructed from 22,000 Duplo bricks outside Legoland Boston made its debut to the delight of local children in 2014. It was renamed Gio in 2017 to honor a Medford boy who loved giraffes and lost his life to congenital heart failure. It's a great place to gawk at cool Lego sculpture (for free) and score a photo op!
Nearby: A visit to Assembly Row to see Gio wouldn’t be complete without heading inside Legoland, which is a wonderland of fun for kids who love to build.

Roar! The T-Rex now stands guard outside MOS. Photo courtesy of Chris Devers/CC BY 2.0

6. Tyrannosaurus Rex—Museum of Science, Boston
When to see it: Anytime, this is a permanent exhibit.
About: When the Tyrannosaurus rex that now resides outside the Museum of Science was first created, its head was driven around the city in a truck to raise money for the creation of the museum building. Now the 20-foot-tall, 40-foot-long dinosaur greets visitors as they enter one of Boston’s best museums for children (and adults!).
Nearby: Pop into the Museum of Science for a full day of educational fun that the entire family will enjoy.

No trip to the Garden is complete without a visit with the ducklings. Photo by Kimberly Vardeman/CC BY 2.0

7. Make Way for Ducklings—Boston Public Garden, Beacon and Charles Streets
When to see it: Anytime, this is a permanent exhibit.
About: There’s hardly a more iconic book about Boston than Robert McCloskey's Make Way for Ducklings, and the accompanying sculpture is one of the most kid-friendly pieces of art in the city. Little ones are encouraged to play with and ride on the ducks (and adults often have fun dressing them up for various sporting events and holidays).
Nearby: After you snap the classic kid on duckling photo, refuel at one of these restaurants near the Public Garden/Boston Common.

A tribute to science (that kids can run inside of) looms near MIT. Photo by Tony Webster/CC BY 2.0

8. Alchemist—84 Mass Ave, Cambridge
When to see it: Anytime, this is a permanent exhibit.
About: Most of Jaume Plensa’s works are constructed from large stainless steel letters painted white but the Alchemist is made up of numbers and mathematical symbols to honor the researchers and scientists at MIT, where the sculpture resides. Its inviting shape encourages kids to run right inside of it.
Nearby: When you’ve had your fill of the sculpture, head to the MIT Museum and then refuel at nearby Flour Bakery.

The giant milk bottle is a beacon for our city's great kid-oriented museum. Photo courtesy of Sarahtarno/CC BY 2.0

9. Hood Milk Bottle—Outside Boston Children's Museum, Boson
When to see it: Anytime, this is a permanent exhibit.
About: Originally built as an ice cream stand in Taunton, the Hood Milk Bottle is now one of Boston’s most iconic landmarks. And it still sells snacks, so it’s not only fun to look at, it can satisfy your hunger as well.
Nearby: The Hood Milk Bottle is located right outside the Boston Children’s Museum, so it’s worth coordinating your trip with a visit inside.

Play a tune as you cross the Charles River Dam. Photo courtesy of artist Paul Matisse

10. Charlestown Bells—Paul Revere Park, Boston
Location: Near Paul Revere Park, Boston
When to see it: Anytime, this is a permanent exhibit.
About: Kids of all ages will love the interactive Charlestown Bells art installation created by the grandson of artist Henri Matisse. Play a tune on the restored bells as you cross the Charles River Dam near Paul Revere Park.
Nearby: Visit the nearby USS Constitution Museum for a full day of historic fun.

Fog x Island, Olmsted Park
99 Pond Ave.
02445 Brookline , MA 42° 19' 46.326" N, 71° 6' 56.0196" W
Fog x Canopy, Back Bay Fens
Emerald Necklace
02115 Boston , MA 42° 20' 23.6544" N, 71° 5' 23.6004" W
Fog x Beach, Jamaica Pond
130 Prince St.
02130 Jamaica Plain , MA 42° 18' 50.1372" N, 71° 7' 23.0088" W
Fog x Hill, Arnold Arboretum
125 Arborway
02130 Boston , MA 42° 18' 27.4356" N, 71° 7' 14.7288" W
Fog x Ruins, Franklin Park
1 Franklin Park Road
02121 Boston , MA 42° 18' 10.1772" N, 71° 5' 15.6876" W
Flying HorseOutdoor Sculpture Exhibit - Pingree School
537 Highland Ave.
01982 South Hamilton , MA 42° 38' 18.8988" N, 70° 52' 51.6936" W
Open House
499 Commonwealth Ave.
02215 Boston , MA 42° 20' 56.8572" N, 71° 5' 42.0216" W
Carving Out Fresh Options - Dewey Square Park
Atlantic Avenue
02111 Boston , MA 42° 21' 4.4496" N, 71° 3' 22.2876" W
GLOW - Rose Kennedy Greenway 02114 Boston , MA 42° 21' 55.0512" N, 71° 3' 52.6824" W
Gio the Giraffe - LEGOLand
598 Assembly Row
02145 Somerville , MA 42° 23' 41.5212" N, 71° 4' 46.6356" W
Tyrannosaurus Rex - Museum of Science
1 Science Park
02114 Boston , MA 42° 22' 4.0476" N, 71° 4' 14.952" W
Make Way for Ducklings - Boston Public Garden
4 Charles St. South
02116 Boston , MA 42° 21' 7.9848" N, 71° 4' 1.3296" W
84 Massachusetts Ave.
02139 Cambridge , MA 42° 21' 32.4504" N, 71° 5' 40.9992" W
Hood Milk Bottle
300 Congress St.
02210 Boston , MA 42° 21' 5.1876" N, 71° 2' 59.388" W
Charlestown Bells 02129 Boston , MA 42° 22' 46.3476" N, 71° 3' 52.6824" W