Bloom: an awesome art installation of 28,000 potted flowers installed at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center

"In 2003 a building housing the Massachusetts Mental Health Center (MMHC) was slated for demolition to make way for updated facilities. The closure was a time for reflection and remembrance as the MMHC had been in operation for over 9 decades and had touched countless thousands of patients and employees alike, and the pending demolition presented a unique problem. How does one memorialize a building impossibly rich with a history of both hope and sadness, and do it in a way that reflects not only the past but also the future? And could this memorial be open to the public, not as a speech, or series of informational plaques, but as an experience worthy of they building’s unique story?

To answer that question artist Anna Schuleit was commissioned to do the impossible. After an initial tour of the facility she was struck not with what she saw but with what she didn’t see: the presence of life and color. While historically a place of healing, the drab interior, worn hallways, and dull paint needed a respectful infusion of hope. With a limited budget and only four months of planning Schuleit and an enormous team of volunteers executed a massive public art installation called Bloom. The concept was simple but absolutely immense in scale. Nearly 28,000 potted flowers would fill almost every square foot of the MMHC including corridors, stairwells, offices and even a swimming pool, all of it brought to life with a sea of blooms. The public was then invited for a limited 4-day viewing as a time for needed reflection and rebirth.”

Pictured above you see: One of the tiny offices on the third floor, with orange tulips at mid-day, The Child Psychiatry unit with white tulips, Pink Heather in one of the patients’ waiting rooms, purple flowers that had traveled the farthest to be part of Bloom—all the way from California, and Red Regina Mums in the hallway that was the last one to close—it used to be one of the busiest homeless shelters in Boston.

Read more about Bloom over at Colossal, where you’ll find more wonderful photos and an interview with Anna Schuleit.