MFA – Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

465 Huntington Avenue, Boston
Massachusetts, United States
Phone: +1 617-267-9300
closed on: open daily, except January 1, Patriots’ Day, July 4, Thanksgiving, and December 25
Museum Type: Art, Decorative arts / Handicraft
Museum Fine Arts Boston MFA Foster expansion

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, also known as MFA, is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States. The museum is particularly renowned for its collections of American, European old masters, and French Impressionist art.

Above: a view of the Art of the Americas Wing; photo © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 

History and architecture
The museum opened to the public on July 4, 1876, at Copley Square, with a collection of 5,600 artworks.
The collection grew so much in the following decades that, in 1909, the institution moved to a new, larger neoclassic-style building designed by American architect Guy Lowell. Afterward, the MFA’s home has been repeatedly enlarged and renovated. In 1915 with the construction of the Evans Wing for Paintings, and in 1928 with that of the Decorative Arts Wing, both designed by Lowell.
In 1970, the new George Robert White Wing was completed after a design by Hugh Stubbins. The West Wing, designed by I.M. Pei, was opened in 1981.

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The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in a 1920s postcard; image Boston Public Library (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

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MFA, south facade on Huntington Avenue; photo: Yarian Gomez (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Museum Fine Arts Boston MFA interior 01

The grand stair of the MFA; photo: Bill Damon (CC BY 2.0).

Finally, the most important expansion project in the museum’s history was completed in 2010, after a design by British architectural firm Foster + Partners, led by Lord Norman Foster.
The new masterplan comprised the restoration of Lowell’s buildings, a general redesign of the circulation inside the museum, new landscaping of the green spaces surrounding the complex, and the construction of an array of new spaces which included a new information center, the Art of the Americas Wing, a cafe, and a new special exhibition gallery. Arranged on four floors and encompassing 53 galleries, the Art of the Americas Wing is accommodated in the so-called crystal spine, an impressive 21-meter-high glazed space located in the heart of the museum complex.

Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Art of the Americas Wing

A view of the Art of the Americas Wing designed by Lord Norman Foster; photo © Chuck Choi courtesy of MFA.

Museum Fine Arts Boston MFA lobby

Views of the cafe located in a covered courtyard part of the so-called “crystal spine” glazed space; photo: Jim Forest (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Comprising some 500,000 pieces of fine and applied arts, the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts of Boston spans a broad range of subjects and a period of over 8,000 years; the collection is divided into 11 sections.

Art of the Americas includes works dating from the Pre-Columbian era to the second half of the 20th century.
Art of Europe features thousands of artworks dating from the Middle Ages to the 20th century and presents, decorative art objects and furniture, paintings and sculptures by artists such as Duccio Da Buonisegna, Donatello, Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Titian, Tintoretto, Canaletto, Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony Van Dyck, Diego Velázquez, Francisco de Zurbarán, El Greco, Francisco Goya, William Turner, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, and Vincent van Gogh.
Art of Asia is composed of pieces of fine and decorative arts from Japan, China, Korea, South and Southeast Asia, and the Islamic world.
Art of the Ancient World comprises thousands of artifacts from Ancient Egypt, Greece, the Roman Empire, and the ancient Near East dating from 6,500 BC to 600 AD.
The Contemporary Art collection features works by Pablo Picasso, Alex Katz, Anish Kapoor, Ellsworth Kelly, Pierpaolo Calzolari, Lucien Freud, Gerhard Richter, Georg Baselitz, Glenn Ligon, Doris Salcedo, Andy Warhol, Sigmar Polke, Anselm Kiefer, and Takashi Murakami, among others.

The MFA also holds remarkable collections of photography, prints and drawings, the art of Africa and Oceania, musical instruments, textiles and fashion, and jewelry.

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MFA, interior view; photo: Ben Mason (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Museum Fine Arts Boston MFA Korean gallery interior

The Arts of Korea room in the Asian Art exhibition; photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Postman Joseph Roulin van Gogh MFA Boston

Vincent van Gogh, Postman Joseph Roulin, 1888, oil on canvas; Gift of Robert Treat Pain, 2nd.     Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Program of activities
The Museum of Fine Arts has a comprehensive program of special exhibitions, educational courses, film screenings, lectures, live performances and music concerts, art workshops, and special events.
The museum’s complex, which is accessible to physically impaired persons, includes two auditoriums, a Japanese garden, three shops, a restaurant, two cafes, and a cafeteria.

Museum Fine Arts Boston MFA Japanese garden

The Tenshin-en Japanese garden; photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 

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copyright Inexhibit 2022 - ISSN: 2283-5474