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Arts, Literature, Architecture

International Scholars > Experience American Culture > Arts, Literature, Architecture

Sculpture on Killian Court

Arts, Literature, and Architecture in Cambridge and Boston

If the arts and humanities stir your interest, you will be happy to know that many important authors, musicians, philosophers, artists, and performers have lived in this area and left their marks.

Jazz music is called the original American musical art form. When in the US, you must experience live jazz! Your opportunities to hear jazz music abound in Boston and Cambridge. The famous Berklee College of Music is located just over the bridge on Massachusetts Avenue. Some of contemporary jazz’s most famous musicians went to college there and return regularly to perform. Check the online events calendar at Berklee to see who is performing.

Boston and Cambridge are home to some important American architecture and landscape architecture as well, most famously the work of HH Richardson. He designed Trinity Church in Copley Square as well as buildings on and around Harvard University and several public libraries in the surrounding suburbs.  If you have the opportunity to visit Trinity Church it is also worth walking across the square to the Boston Public Library for a tour of its artwork and beautiful architecture. The gardens of Frederick Law Olmsted are also inspiring, including the Emerald Necklace, a series of green spaces, parks, the arboretum, that stretch throughout the City of Boston, from the Public Gardens to Franklin Park. They are easily accessible from campus. The “Necklace” covers an area about seven miles long so it may be too long to walk in a day. But, the individual parks and green spaces could certainly be seen by bicycle or on foot over a longer time period. See the “Museums” page for other options related to art and design.

If you prefer contemporary culture like cinema, you can visit the locations featured in movies like those starring Cantabrigians Matt Damon and Ben Affleck (The Town, Good Will Hunting, Gone Baby Gone, The Departed) as well as many other movies filmed in the area (Jaws, Love Story, The Perfect Storm, and more).

The homes of several famous authors, philosophers and teachers can still be visited and their books and photographs can also be seen in libraries, museums, and at local universities. Perhaps you have heard of Louisa May Alcott, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. They are a part of our New England consciousness and culture.  A great place to visit on a warm summer’s day is Walden Pond in Concord, the small pond that inspired the writings of Thoreau. Maybe you too will find inspiration on the shore, or in the woods of this beautiful State Park.

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Last Updated: July 2019

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