October 22, 2009

The Forest Hills Educational Trust is a nonprofit organization founded in 1991 to preserve, enhance, interpret and celebrate Forest Hills Cemetery. The Trust organizes a variety of programs inspired by the Cemetery’s unique environment – walking tours, concerts, poetry readings, a summer camp program, and adventurous exhibitions of contemporary art as well as ceremonies of remembrance. These activities are designed to invite the community to explore one of the city’s treasures. At first, many people are surprised to find so much happening in a cemetery. However, they quickly realize that Forest Hills is an extraordinary resource, a place to experience art, nature, and history as well as a tranquil sanctuary for reflection and remembrance

The Trust’s expert tour guides – many of them volunteers – give visitors a glimpse of the history of Boston through the stories of the people buried at Forest Hills. Other tours reveal the meaning of the symbols carved in stone memorials – oak leaves for strength, ivy for a faithful nature – and stop at bronze and marble sculpture by the most eminent artists of the 19th and early 20th century; the Trust raises funds to engage conservators every year to care for some of these endangered masterpieces, which are damaged by pollution and New England weather. The Lantern Festival and a traditional Day of the Dead are major community events that draw thousands every year; the beauty and spirituality of Forest Hills make it an inspiring setting to gather and celebrate the memory of family and friends. The Trust’s exhibitions of contemporary art offer new ways to think about age-old themes of family, ancestors, nature, remembrance, the cycles of life, and the world of the spirits. These programs are extremely innovative and have become a national model; however, the Trust is working to restore the original vision of the Cemetery as a destination, a welcoming place for the living as well as an eternal home for the dead.

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