Most popular people depicted in artworks

This first visualization shows the people depicted in works of public art in Boston, along with the number of works in which they are depicted. Please note that as our data is not comprehensive, it is possible that there may be additional people depicted in Boston public art who are not listed here. It is also possible that some who are listed here are depicted more than the number of times listed. Moreover, as some murals listed in the data have been demolished (including, for example, “Roxbury Love” depicting Nelson Mandela), some people here may also be depicted fewer times than listed in the visualizations, in terms of still-standing artwork.

It is perhaps unsurprising that five out of the six most frequently depicted people have close ties to Massachusetts and often specifically Boston. There’s Frederick Douglass, who lived in New Bedford and Lynn after escaping enslavement. There are also several civil rights activists, including Malcolm X, who spent his formative young adult years in Roxbury, Martin Luther King Jr. who studied theology at Boston University, and Melnea Cass, who advocated for the rights of African American women in Boston.

In addition to several other activists depicted in Boston public art, several scientists, engineers, and inventors are depicted as well. These include Patricia Bath, an ophthalmologist; Charles Richard Drew, a surgeon and medical researcher; Garret Morgan and Lewis Howard Latimer, both inventors; Elijah McCoy, an engineer; Valerie Thomas, a NASA data scientist; and, of course, Albert Einstein.

The relatively high number of sports players depicted may also speak to Boston’s identity as a sports-loving city. Baseball players Ted Williams, Roberto Clemente, and Cy Young are all depicted, as well as ice hockey player Bobby Orr.

Relationships between artworks and people depicted in them

This second visualization shows the people depicted in works of public art in Boston and the works in which they are depicted. The nodes represent either artworks or the people they depict, and the edges represent the connections between them. So, an edge between two nodes, a mural and a person, indicates that the mural depicts that person. You may find that there are multiple edges from a “mural” node to multiple “people” nodes; this means that the mural depicts multiple people. Click on a node to see its various attributes. Double click on a node to be directed to its Wikidata item page.

You can see which people have been depicted together, such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Medgar Evers in Dana Chandler’s mural Knowledge is Power, Stay in School. Again, please note that this data is incomplete: there may be additional works that depict people or additional people depicted in these works.