The Revolving Museum History & Philosophy


In 1984, artist Jerry Beck founded The Revolving Museum in Boston with “The Little Train That Could…Show,” a collaborative public artwork that transformed 12 abandoned railroad cars along the Boston waterfront. The project included the participation of visual and performing artists, folk artists, young people and the homeless that lived in the train. The artworks included interactive installations, kinetic art, painting, sculpture, photography, mixed-media, ceramics, textile art-wear, video, film, poetry, storytelling, and performance art. The project marked the beginning of the museum’s role as a nomadic institution dedicated to transforming and revitalizing abandoned and or under-utilized public spaces into innovative community arts projects.

Soon, The Revolving Museum and its spirited team of artists began revitalizing other unusual, unused and abandoned urban spaces.  “Revolving” around the city, the Museum transformed such unconventional locales as a haunted civil war fort on an island in Boston’s harbor, 200 year-old rum cellar, baseball field, many empty buildings, 30,000 square foot warehouse, historic textile mill complex and smokestack, alleyways, and even within people’s homes.  To expand its outreach into many neighborhoods and under-served communities, TRM began renovating vehicles of travel including six airline baggage cars, vintage ice cream truck, housekeeping pushcarts, bookmobile, boats, school buses, and bikes.

TRM’s signature phrase, “Making Space for Art and Community,” suggests the collaborative nature of the Museum’s vision—the belief that a community can be strengthened through an introduction to art, to one another, to contemporary social concerns, and to the artistic possibilities of their shared environment.  Through the simple act of creative expression — whether visual, musical, literary, theatrical, and community-building events, TRM provides people with an opportunity to discover (sometimes for the first time!) their artistic talents. In this way, young and old, trained and self-taught artists alike take on the all-important role of the public artist; an individual who utilizes his or her own creative talents to contribute to the well being of the community.

TRM believes the creative process is without prejudice. It allows our rich and diversified society a boundless forum for questioning and sharing the experience of being human. It sees failure and success as equal partners and is dedicated to a model of inclusion; an understanding that people are creative beings with unlimited potential to express, shape, and heal themselves and the world around them. It believes that the power of creativity, art and art making can be a catalyst for personal, intellectual, social, environmental, economic and political transformation.

TRM projects are interactive, energetic, and provocative because they allow artists and the public to address socially pertinent issues such as war, racism, violence, poverty, drugs, homelessness, and the destruction of our natural environment.  The results with successful TRM projects is that of ownership and partnership, a mindful understanding that they have contributed to something bigger than themselves and can become life altering for all involved.  TRM creates a renaissance of activity which creates a sense of place and meaningful dialogue between artists and the public that didn’t exist before.

TRM wants to express our heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to all that have helped to inspire, influence, shape, and evolve TRM’s vision and mission to create space for art and the community.