Jen Mergel's profile photo

Jen Mergel

Director of Experience and Cultural Partnerships, Emerald Necklace Conservancy

Jen Mergel's profile photo
Location: Quincy, MA
Start Year: 2022
TRHT Pillar: Narrative Change


Jen Mergel is a nationally respected Boston-based contemporary art curator and cultural leader working to expose her hometown’s histories and collaboratively reimagine its futures through an equity and empowerment lens. She has organized more than 50 exhibitions for museum, academic, and citywide venues. Her latest curatorial projects focus on Boston’s Black Feminisms, Exquisite Corpse collaborations in times of pandemic, and exploring histories of spatial justice through the forthcoming Olmsted Bicentennial in 2022.

Jen’s recent roles include vice president for the Association of Art Museum Curators, guest editor for Boston Art Review Magazine: The Public Art Issue, curator of The Armory Show’s public Platform Section, and guest curator of the award-winning citywide exhibition Fog x FLO: Fujiko Nakaya on the Emerald Necklace.

From 2010 to 2017, Jen headed the Contemporary Art Department at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, after prior curatorial roles at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and Addison Gallery at Phillips Academy, among others. In 2017, she left the museum context to found the Curatorial Network Accelerator of Boston. She now serves as the inaugural Director of Experience and Cultural Partnerships for Boston’s Emerald Necklace Conservancy, where she builds the nonprofit’s capacity to co-create more impactful and inclusive park experiences through partnerships with history keepers, change agents, and thought leaders in public-making through art, design, and culture. Jen graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University, received her master’s from Bard’s Center for Curatorial Studies, is a Fellow of the Center for Curatorial Leadership, and continues her studies through the Racial Equity Institute.

Future Focus

Since 2020, Jen has been building a multi-disciplinary coalition to explore the themes of shared use, shared health, and shared power in parks and public spaces for Olmsted Now: Greater Boston’s Olmsted Bicentennial, an active initiative through October 2022. She has been developing four engagement channels for Olmsted Now to make lasting equity impacts: organizational partnerships, neighborhood-centered program decision-making, public dialogues for co-learning, and park experiences for cross-neighborhood connection. Through this work, Mergel invites colleagues to break cycles of siloed thinking (from COVID-19, to Boston’s systemic segregation) to practice new forms of public space collaboration. She seeks to hone learnings from 2022 into models for park equity that guide not only the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, but partners across Boston and beyond.

Post-Institute: Transformative Action Plans

Jen’s work addresses the challenge of racist barriers to cultural inclusion in Boston’s greenspace along the Charles River. The call to action is to make greenspace more accessible, porous, healing, and life-affirming. She is utilizing the TRHT strategic framework process and the “Beyond the Hero” method to document histories of physical and social exclusion, to enact allyship, model action, share resources, and ensure accountability among state park policymakers. 186 community partners join Jen in this work to promote power sharing, parks equity and spatial justice.


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