Art and Inspiration at Mount Auburn

April 2, 2021

Artwork above: Sanctuary by Zhonghe (Elena) Li, July 2020

It is already widely known how many setbacks arts and culture have experienced across all disciplines and media during the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to support an expanded group of artists in 2021, we adjusted Mount Auburn’s artist-in-residence program, which awards one artist a two-year residency, and have made mini-grants to five artists to create original works inspired by the Cemetery during a one-year period. Each of the selected artists will create an original project rooted in their experiences at Mount Auburn.

(more…)

Virtual ways to enjoy the Cemetery

May 1, 2020

Follow Us on Social Media

Our staff continue to regularly post historical and horticultural highlights on our social medial channels. Make sure you are following us to learn more about the may facets of Mount Auburn and to get our latest news: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Join a Virtual Public Program

UPCOMING

Check the calendar to register for an upcoming virtual program!


Watch Recordings of previously held Virtual Programs:

These programs have already happened, however you can watch the recorded videos here at a time of your own choosing!


Explore our Archives

Explore our Online Collections Database. This online catalog allows you to explore Mount Auburn’s Historical Collections & Archives. Holdings include a wide range of prints, photographs, books, ephemera, maps, plans, decorative arts, fine art, and more than 3,500 linear feet of archival records.


An Invitation to Help Transcribe Our History – From Home! Mount Auburn is pleased to announce an exciting new transcription project that welcomes your participation in making our history more accessible. The Cemetery’s Historical Collections & Archives staff have preserved our most significant archival documents, but many of these are hand-written 19th-century letters and reports that are not easy to read. By transcribing these materials, researchers will be able to read and search across thousands of pages for the first time. That’s where you come in!


Learn more about Mount Auburn’s Significant Monuments in our online exhibit featuring thirty monuments of historic and artistic significance.


Our digital archive includes all of the past issues of Sweet Auburn: The Magazine of the Friends of Mount Auburn.


Be Inspired

Explore the final projects of Mount Auburn’s former Artists-in-Residence:

earth.sky – In a multimedia project that includes twenty nine videos, photographs, and words, Mount Auburn’s first Artist-in-Residence Roberto Mighty celebrates the seasons and the stories of Mount Auburn.


Spring & Autumn Suites – Twelve classical works composed by Mount Auburn’s second Artist-in-Residence Mary Bichner and recorded at WGBH Studios draw inspiration from the landscape’s seasonal colors and the poetry of its notable residents


Learn more about our many facets

Stay Home Sweet Auburn: an exciting new video series started by The Friends of Mount Auburn during the pandemic. We are continuing to expand our virtual programming so you can learn from home!


Listen to the recent Talk Nerdy Podcast interview with Paul Kwaitkowski, Mount Auburn’s Wildlife Conservation and Sustainability Manager on Citizen Science to learn more about our efforts to create beneficial wildlife habitat.


Browse Mount Auburn’s website and read Notable People Biographies and History, Horticulture, and Wildlife Highlights, or learn about Environmental Stewardship initiatives.


Take a Deep Breath

View a peaceful and calming Autumn at Mount Auburn slideshow with music from Composer-in-Residence Mary Bichner.


Watch a serene scene slideshow from Mount Auburn with inspiring music!


Relax with a Mount Auburn Moment of Zen. Mount Auburn’s grounds may be closed to the public to keep our staff and families burying loved ones safe, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a bit of springtime at Mount Auburn.


Watch a contemplative concert with Satigata, performed in Story Chapel on April 9, 2017 and recorded by Cambridge Community Television.


Enjoy memories of previous fall seasons at Mount Auburn Cemetery.

And here are some more recent photos!

Memorial Day 2021

May 1, 2021

This year we are offering several opportunities to commemorate loved ones in observance of Memorial Day. Learn more about our seasonal floral tribute options, our flag policy, and how to view year’s Virtual Service of Commemoration.


Memorial Day Floral Tributes

We are now accepting orders for the Memorial Day Season of Remembrance. Purchase a seasonal potted plant for placement at a grave, lot, or crypt. Cut flower bouquets are available for columbaria niches in Story Chapel or Bigelow Chapel.

Please place your order by May 20th. Tributes will be placed at the location specified with your order the last week in May.

ORDER ONLINE >>

Because our Greenhouse is currently closed to the public, we will not be offering walk-up or in-person floral tribute sales at the Cemetery this May.

If you will be visiting the Cemetery in person, you are also welcome to bring a tribute purchased elsewhere for placement at graves and lots. In accordance with our Rules & Regulations, only tributes made of natural plant material are allowed.

All Memorial Day Tributes will be removed from the grounds starting June 14, 2021.


FLAGS

Mount Auburn has complimentary Veterans Flags available for select holidays including Memorial Day. These flags are only to be used for placement at graves within the Cemetery.

Flags will be available at our Entrance in late May.


MEMORIAL CONTRIBUTIONS

Memorial contributions are used to enhance the beauty of our grounds. Individuals recognized with a Memorial Contribution will be remembered at our annual Service of Commemoration.

MAKE A MEMORIAL CONTRIBUTION >>


SERVICE OF COMMEMORATION

This year’s annual Service of Commemoration will be a pre-recorded program available for viewing on our website starting May 28th.

Please check back on Memorial Day weekend to view the Service.

“Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.”


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Decoration Day”

Celebrating Dave Barnett

April 30, 2021

2021 is a bittersweet year for all of us at Mount Auburn as we look ahead to the retirement of President & CEO Dave Barnett in September. Over the past 28 years since he first arrived as Director of Horticulture, his impact has been profound – both as an advocate and innovator for horticulture throughout our landscape and as a leader who has inspired and mentored a passionate, talented staff working together to bring Mount Auburn to new levels of excellence.

Rethinking Mount Auburn’s Landscape

Dave arrived at a pivotal turning point in Mount Auburn’s recent history, and has played a crucial role its evolution since then. When Dave was hired in 1993, the Cemetery had recently completed a master plan to tackle concerns that it would run out of burial space within a decade if it didn’t change its operations – a predicament that had to be balanced with preserving the nationally significant landscape. After several years of studying the site and working closely with Trustees and staff, a consulting team from Halvorson Design recommended a set of strategies for Mount Auburn to approach its future more creatively, with new models for incorporating burial space while simultaneously enhancing the historic landscape and recapturing its early design principles and founding values.

One recommendation that quickly got implemented was to restructure the horticulture program to reimagine the landscape and already-strong collection of plants and trees. This was what brought Dave here as the Cemetery’s first Director of Horticulture, inspired by the opportunity to bring an already beautiful place to new levels. “What drew me was the trees and landscape when I first came in the gate – it was phenomenal,” Dave recalls. “I was here in the middle of May that year, and just saw the sheer beauty of the place, and I was excited about the possibilities of building on that landscape and making it even better.”

That visit inspired Dave to take a closer look at the master plan, which confirmed for him that Mount Auburn was moving forward in a direction he wanted to be part of. And he has been implementing these strategies ever since, managing a growing number of landscape redesign projects over the years. In the process, Mount Auburn became what we see today – widely regarded as a leader in horticulture, and sustainable, habitat-friendly landscape design, and predicted to remain an active cemetery with burial space well into the future.

“In all my years of working with institutions and public agencies on preserving and developing cultural landscapes throughout the Boston metropolitan area and beyond, Dave stands out. Whenever he spoke about projects and plans for the Cemetery, he would quote from the Master Plan. It didn’t just sit on his shelf…It has stood the test of time not just because of what was in it but because of Dave’s commitment to honoring the principles that Mount Auburn was founded on and how they were manifested in the landscape to comfort and inspire.”

Liz Vizza, Former Senior Associate at Halvorson Design, now President of the Friends of the Public Garden

Highlights of Dave’s Tenure

Dave is the first to admit that he never could have predicted he would spend the rest of his career at Mount Auburn (or any cemetery), let alone become President & CEO. “But what I did know, and had long been sure of, was that I wanted a career in public horticulture. And that’s what I’m still doing – it just happens to have the very important cemetery side of it as well. I should also say that the cemetery side was something I had to get used to, but as it turns out, it’s probably the most compelling and satisfying part.”


“Dave doesn’t just work at Mount Auburn, he lives Mount Auburn. He epitomizes the values that we came up with during the Vision and Values process. The Statement of Vision and Values talks about welcome, compassion, dignity, stewardship, sustainability, and integrity: all of which Dave stands for as a person.”


Pat Jacoby, Chair of Mount Auburn Cemetery Board of Trustees

Reflecting on his tenure, certain highlights stand out for Dave today. One of the first major projects inspired by the master plan that he helped implement was restoring the natural woodland habitat around Consecration Dell in the heart of the Cemetery – an ambitious initiative that began in 1997 and has continued in stages ever since. And more recently, the 2018 renovation of Asa Gray Garden was the culmination of years of planning, to elevate one of our most-visited areas near our main entrance into both a horticultural showpiece and a tranquil space that better serves anyone in need of respite.

A hillside is covered with native shrubs and trees. It is spring and the entire hillside is shades of green from the masses of plantings.

“Consecration Dell and Asa Gray Garden are both spectacular in many ways, but they’re very different. One is a restoration of a natural woodland. And the other is an ornamental, four-season, colorful garden. But I think what they both relate to, in different ways, is the importance what Mount Auburn is for so many people: an inspiring, tranquil, beautiful place. They each do that in a very different way, but both projects were absolutely transformative.”

Dave Barnett

Leadership and Innovation

Central to Dave’s leadership style is a deep respect and eagerness to support and encourage the staff he has worked with over the years. During his many years both in our Horticulture Department and as President & CEO, Dave has both fostered a strong sense of community among the staff and pushed Mount Auburn to new levels of innovation.

“I think what pulls us all together is the recognition of the value of what we do, and the importance of Mount Auburn as a place of beauty and comfort,” Dave reflects. “There’s a real pride that everybody gets after they come here. It’s something about Mount Auburn that makes people want to work intently to make it even better. And that’s only happened because of the people here. There’s been a lot of long-standing, ongoing relationships that have kept this place going to the next level.”

Dave has not only played a major role in making Mount Auburn what it is today: he has also played a major role in making the people of Mount Auburn who they are today. With gratitude, we thank him, and promise to carry on his vision and above all his compassion for all of those who make up the community of Mount Auburn.

Regina Harrison, Sales Manager


More:

Watch recordings of DAVE ON TAP: Reflections on Mount Auburn with President & CEO Dave Barnett, a three-part series of moderated discussions on horticulture, ecology, and preservation.

Listen to Lessons In Ecology from Mount Auburn Cemetery, with David Barnett on the “A Way To Garden with Margaret Roach” podcast.


The David P. Barnett Fund for Horticulture & Urban Ecology

To honor Dave’s career, Mount Auburn has established the David P. Barnett Fund for Horticulture & Urban Ecology, which will support emerging professionals in both fields. The fund has been inspired by Dave’s profound impact on the Cemetery’s landscape – showcasing our horticultural excellence and creating a more sustainable habitat – and his strong belief in mentoring and giving hands-on training to young people. Providing opportunities for emerging professionals as they embark on careers in the fields he loves is a fitting tribute to his legacy.

“We need to keep encouraging young future leaders, and professionals at every level. It’s important to me to have a fund that will provide mentorship and training opportunities. These individuals will be the future of protecting our world and maintaining places like Mount Auburn, whether it’s Mount Auburn or so many other gardens or wildlife sanctuaries where they might end up working.”

Please help us honor Dave by donating to the Barnett Fund today!


Dave’s Career at Mount Auburn

Reflections on Mount Auburn with President & CEO Dave Barnett

April 30, 2021

Mount Auburn has been led by President & CEO Dave Barnett since 2008. Dave began his tenure at Mount Auburn in 1993 as the Cemetery’s first Director of Horticulture and has since been responsible for elevating the inspirational qualities of Mount Auburn’s landscape. His many professional awards include a Distinguished Service Medal from the Garden Club of America and an Honorary Life Member designation from the American Public Gardens Association.

As his retirement approaches (September 2021), Dave reflects back on his 28-year tenure at the Cemetery in a series of moderated conversations with his longtime friends and colleagues. View the recordings below.


Mount Auburn’s Evolving Landscape

A conversation between Dave Barnett; Craig Halvorson, consulting landscape architect; and Claude Benoit, retired Director of Horticulture. Moderated by Mount Auburn Trustee Tom Cooper.

1993 was a pivotal year for Mount Auburn on multiple levels – Craig and his team completed a major master plan that has been reshaping our landscape ever since, and Dave was hired to help make the plan a reality. Mount Auburn’s landscape has never been static throughout its entire history, and Dave, Craig, and Claude reflect on the parts they played in its continued evolution, always with the goal of elevating this beloved site to new levels.

Recorded on February 16, 2021.


Mount Auburn’s 25 Years of Habitat Restoration

A conversation between Dave Barnett; Dennis Collins, Horticultural Curator; and Joe Martinez, consulting scientist. Moderated by Mount Auburn Trustee Frank Reece.

From rethinking what we plant where, to reintroducing native amphibian species to our site, to researching how to best serve all of the wildlife that calls Mount Auburn home, our staff and consultants have spent decades transforming Mount Auburn into a more sustainable urban habitat. Together with some of his colleagues and consulting scientists, Dave reflects on how they have made this goal a reality – and what comes next.

Recorded on March 24, 2021.


Preserving Mount Auburn’s Cultural Landscape

A conversation between Dave Barnett; Meg Winslow, Curator of Historical Collections & Archives; and Gus Fraser, Vice President of Preservation & Facilities. Moderated by Vice President of Cemetery & Visitor Services Bree Harvey.

When you hear the words “historic landscape,” do you gravitate towards one word more than the other? How do you manage both equally? And how do historic preservation and landscape work together at Mount Auburn? Dave and a team of his longtime staff colleagues discuss how these questions have informed so many of the projects they have worked on together.

Recorded on April 28, 2021.


Read More

Celebrating Dave Barnett | Join us in celebrating Dave’s remarkable tenure at Mount Auburn and learn more about the newly established David P. Barnett Fund for Horticulture & Urban Ecology, which will support continued excellence in areas that are certain to be part of his legacy.  Read more >>


Acknowledgements

This three-part series was sponsored by Magnolia Wine Company.

Umbrella Magnolia

April 29, 2021

Horticulture Highlight: Umbrella Magnolia, Magnolia tripetala

I wakened to the singing of a bird;

I heard the bird of spring.

And, lo!

At his sweet note

The flowers began to grow…

            -Annie Adams Field

There are multitudinous flowers everywhere in Mount Auburn during the month of May. Early on are trillium, forsythia, spiraea, serviceberry, fothergilla, magnolia, then on to crab apple, lilac, wisteria, finally displaying azalea, amsonia, viburnum, false indigo, tulip tree among many others. While there have been many magnolias in bloom from mid-April on, herein we focus on one of the later flowering species.

(more…)