Museum of Fine Arts – Boston

The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) opened in Boston’s Copley Square in 1876 and moved to its present location at 465 Huntington Avenue in 1909. In addition to being New England’s largest museum, the MFA has an interesting architectural history, as well. A number of renovations and improvements have been made to the original, Gothic-style building through the years, financed primarily by individual donations and gifts. Guy Lowell, architect of the original 1907 building, designed the Decorative Arts Wing in 1928 to include 50 galleries on three floors, a large courtyard, and a sculpture garden by landscape designer Arthur Shurtleff. The White Wing was added in 1970 to house the library, a research laboratory, and other educational facilities. In 1981, a modern addition, the West Wing, was designed by I.M. Pei to house the Gung gallery of contemporary art, more dining space, and a large auditorium. In 1999, the Garden Court glass-enclosed restaurant and Terrace opened and more improvements to the Museum are planned for completion by 2010. These renovations will include a new wing for the Art of the Americas, expanded galleries for Art of Europe and Contemporary Art, more educational facilities, a new Gund gallery, and a glass-enclosed courtyard for year-round enjoyment.

Unique attractions in the rotunda and adjacent colonnade of the Museum are the carefully preserved murals, sculpture, and carved reliefs by John Singer Sargent. Within the MFA are over 450,000 items including the classic exhibits of red and black vases, numerous items of Asiatic art, among the largest in the world, and the remarkable collection of ancient Egyptian displays and artifacts, second only to the museum in Cairo. The Monet collection at the MFA is surpassed only by the one in Paris. In addition to more than 60 portraits by John Singleton Copley and 40 by Gilbert Stuart, other attractions are the Japanese Osaka prints of the Kabuki Theater, with its actors and actresses in caricature; an exhibit of Paul Revere pottery; and photography by Josef Sudek, the poet of Prague. At various times, there have been a variety of exhibits such as Japanese ceramics, rock posters, and Soviet textiles. The MFA has extensive collections of all the great masters of cubism, impressionism, surrealism, and modernism with art by Picasso, Dali, Magritte, Degas, Gaugin, and Matisse.

Special exhibits in the past and upcoming include Domains of Wonder: Masterworks of Indian Painting; the Romance of Modernism: Paintings and Sculpture from the Scott M. Black Collection; Italian Renaissance Sculpture; and art from the Spanish masters El Greco to Velasquez. Daily activities, special programs, artists’ lectures, and gallery talks by the Museum’s curators and independent scholars are regularly scheduled. On Wednesday, from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m., visitors have the opportunity to sketch from live models or from items in the MFA collections, with some materials and guidance provided to encourage participation. Musical performances at various ticket prices, held in the large Remis Auditorium, feature international, folk, and classical vocalists and orchestras, as well as the sounds of Gershwin and Porter. Other concerts, film series, fashion shows, and performance arts are also presented by the Museum. On the first Friday of every month from 5:30 – 9:30 p.m., the Koch Gallery offers an evening of socializing, music, and art. Open to ages 21 and older, free with MFA admission.

There are three restaurants in the Museum, Bravo, the Galleria, and the Courtyard. The Courtyard features a full-service deli, a salad bar, and grill items at reasonable prices in a casual atmosphere. The Galleria has a similar menu in the atmosphere of a sidewalk café. The Bravo offers a wide selection of appetizers, entrees, and desserts, with wine-tasting every Wednesday and brunch hours on Saturday and Sunday.

Museum Hours: Open 7 days a week. Monday, Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, from 10:00 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. (some galleries not open after 4:45 on Thursday.) The Musical Instrument Gallery is open from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, July 4, and Patriot’s Day, the 3rd Monday in April.

Admission: Adults $15.00, students (over 18) and seniors $13.00, youth 7-17 $6.50 or free after 3:00 p.m., children 6 and MFA members are free.

Bookstore and shop on premises. Handicap accessible, wheelchairs, and assisted listening devices available, special tours for the disabled. Two parking lots nearby, rates $22.00 a day maximum for non-members and $12.00 for members.

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