Beyond Walls is helping make Lynn a cultural and artistic hub, with public parks, large-scale lighting and art installations, and a thriving street art festival. Not bad for a three-person startup that launched in 2017.
Lighting Up Lynn
Story Robyn Griggs Lawrence
Lynn is rebranding, and Beyond Walls is helping to make the town a cultural and artistic hub that reflects its diversity and draws the kind of crowds Salem gets at Halloween and Revere pulls in with its sand castle competition. The place-making and public art nonprofit is transforming underutilized public spaces into gathering spaces, producing large-scale artworks on buildings throughout Lynn, illuminating MBTA underpasses, and developing a three-acre waterfront park by the Lynn ferry terminal. The three-person startup sponsors a street art festival that brings in thousands every year.
“We have some lofty goals,” says Beyond Walls executive director Al Wilson. “But we have something special here—we play well with government agencies, and we’ve found a way to get big in-kind commitments.”
Beyond Walls was launched in 2017 to address walkability downtown, largely because of inadequate lighting on the Market Street Bridge, the Washington Street Bridge, and in Central Square. With help from government and private entities, the local electricians’ union, and a Boston architecture firm, Beyond Walls installed dynamic LED lighting under the bridges. Wilson’s team convinced the city to override a neon ban and let them hang 11 vintage neon signs, and it has brought in artists from around the globe to produce more than
“Beyond Walls is a model that can and should be replicated across the state and around the country,” Wilson says.