Loud, Naked & in Three Colors: the History of Tattooing in Boston at Eustis Estate

Apr 5, 2022

Historic New England explores an art form that was once banned in Boston, but today is seen as a creative mode of self-expression.

Loud, Naked & in Three Colors: the History of Tattooing in Boston is on view from June 10 through October 30, 2022, at the Eustis Estate in Milton, Massachusetts.

Tattoo of woman with flag and sword

While tattooing dates back thousands of years, the art form’s twentieth-century story is a fascinating tale. As America’s industrial cities filled with factory workers eager for amusement, enterprising men and women discovered how they could make a living in the tattoo trade. The rise of an urban working class, two world wars, and the invention of the electric tattooing machine soon propelled tattooing into mainstream American culture.

What’s on display

Loud, Naked, & in Three Colors: the History of Tattooing in Boston explores this phenomenon through a stunning selection of flash art, photography, and advertisements that paint a rich picture of this unique period in the history of tattooing. The exhibition traces the popularization of tattooing in Boston through the stories and memorabilia of the city’s leading tattoo pioneers.

The exhibition, co-curated by Derin Bray and Margaret Hodges, features the work of Frank Howard and the Liberty family – Edward (Dad), Frank, Ted, and Harold (Lefty) – who dominated Boston’s tattoo scene from their shops in Scollay Square, until the practice was banned in 1962. Their stories reveal the complex and nonconformist tattoo culture and the people, businesses, and communities surrounding the tattoo trade. It also examines the influence of the burgeoning and increasingly diverse working class in Boston who drove demand and shaped tattooing culture.

Plan your visit

Loud, Naked & in Three Colors: the History of Tattooing in Boston is at the Eustis Estate, 1424 Canton Avenue, Milton, Mass. The Eustis Estate is open from Friday to Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The grounds are open from dawn to dusk. The exhibition is on view from June 10 to October 30, 2022.

With thanks for their support

Our Patron members made this exhibition possible through their generous support of the Historic New England Fund.