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Arts & Exhibits

Sculpture under snow: a winter walk round Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge

Monument to Harriot Kezia Hunt, by Edmonia Lewis
Monument to Harriot Kezia Hunt, by Edmonia Lewis
Jane Whitehead

Mount Auburn Cemetery

580 Mount Auburn Street

Cambridge MA 02138

Tel: 617-547-7105

Open to public daily 8.00 am - 5.00 pm, October-April

The temperature's rising around Boston, and the snow is melting fast. But there's still plenty around to give a picturesque wintry charm to Mount Auburn Cemetery, renowned for its landscaping, specimen trees, bird-life, and statuary. The main paths are cleared, and a visitor with 30 minutes to spare can easily track down some of the best-known monuments in the country's oldest garden cemetery (founded 1831). 

A map available for 50c. at the main entrance shows the location of notable memorials. Standing guard over the Bigelow Chapel is the Civil War monument designed by Irish-born sculptor Martin Milmore, and carved by his brother Joseph. An American eagle adorns the headdress of  the giant Sphinx, in place of the traditional Egyptian asp, as is only fitting in a tribute to the preservation of the Union and the abolition of slavery. 

Off Poplar Avenue, in the heart of the cemetery, is a recently-restored sculpture by the African-American/Native American artist Edmonia Lewis (c.1843-1909). The weathered marble female figure represents the Greek goddess of health, Hygieia, and is a memorial to Harriot Kezia Hunt (1805-1875), pioneer feminist and female physician. One of Lewis's best-known works is the bust of the poet Longfellow, made in Rome in 1871, and now in the Harvard University Portrait Collection. 

A little up the hill on the left - follow the Lily Path - from the Hunt memorial is the Homer family plot where painter and illustrator Winslow Homer (1836 - 1910) is buried. Down the slope on the right is the Hosmer family memorial, last resting place of  the sculptor Harriet Hosmer (1830 - 1908).  Hosmer was the leading light of a group of American women sculptors, including Edmonia Lewis, who lived and worked in Rome during the second half of the nineteenth century.

With the graves of more than 60 Boston notables, and monuments by artists including Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Thomas Ball, not to mention its outstanding bird-life, variety of trees and stunning Boston skyline views, Mount Auburn draws visitors at all seasons. But right now, it's a fine and private place.

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