Harbor Islands to become interactive art spaces

A view of Fort Warren on George's Island.
A view of Fort Warren on George's Island. David L Ryan/Globe staff

Two Boston Harbor islands will come to life next month with interactive public art installations and performances that curators say will attract more visitors and get them to view the parks through new eyes.

The Isles Arts Initiative will transform both Spectacle Island and Georges Island by threading public art through woodland trails and wedging it into the historic buildings once used as forts by Civil War-era soldiers.

“All of the artists are doing work that responds directly to the islands, and the history of the islands themselves,” said Elizabeth Devlin, the project’s curator.

On Spectacle Island, interactive and participatory music and visual art performances will be held every Saturday through August.


The Georges Island portion of the project, called “COVE,” will offer 11 different visual arts installations.

An exhibit by artist Pat Falco will use an existing building on the island to create a replica of a Boston streetscape. Another project, titled, “Let the wind be music,” will turn the Powder House into a giant music box. A rooftop wind turbine connected to ropes and pulleys will activate the wispy, ambient tunes.

Devlin said visitors will be encouraged to “island hop” and will be provided with a map of the exhibits.

“People will be able to wander around and experience their work in different ways. You can touch it, you can see it, you can hear it,” Devlin said. “Our hope is to activate all parts of the island.”

Land lovers, or those unable to get to the islands, will be able to experience parts of the project at the Boston Harbor Islands Welcome Center on the Greenway. Beginning June 21, the space will be transformed by a “Treasure Island” exhibit.

An exhibition called “34,” which represents the number of Boston Harbor islands, will be set up downtown for public viewing at the Boston Sculptors Gallery.


To launch the project, Devlin coordinated with the Boston Harbor Island Alliance, National Park Service, the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, and Greenovate Boston. The project is supported by the Boston Art Commission.

“All summer long there is a tremendous variety of free, fun and educational programs on the Islands, and we hope this initiative will bring many new visitors out to discover the wonderful resources of the Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park,” said Phil Griffiths, president of the Boston Harbor Island Alliance, in a statement.

An opening reception will be held Saturday, July 11, on Georges Island. For more information, visit the Isles Arts Initiative’s website, which will launch soon.

Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.