Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
|Museum of Fine Arts, Boston|
|Location||465 Huntington Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02115
|Visitors||Over 1 million visits annually|
|Public transit access||
Museum of Fine Arts
The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, is one of the largest museums in the United States. It contains more than 450,000 works of art, making it one of the most comprehensive collections in the Americas. With more than one million visitors a year, it is (as of 2012[update]) the 31st most-visited art museum in the world and the fifth most-visited in the United States.
Founded in 1870, the museum moved to its current location in 1909. The museum is affiliated with an art academy, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and a sister museum, the Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts, in Nagoya, Japan. The director of the museum is Malcolm Rogers.
The museum was founded in 1870 and opened in 1876, with most of its collection taken from the Boston Athenaeum Art Gallery. Francis Davis Millet was instrumental in starting the Art School attached to the museum and getting Emil Otto Grundmann (1844–1890) appointed as its first director.1 The museum was originally located in a highly ornamented brick Gothic Revival building designed by John Hubbard Sturgis and Charles Brigham and noted for its unusual amount of architectural terra cotta for a U.S. building. It sat on Copley Square in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston.
In 1907, plans were laid to build a new home for the museum on Huntington Avenue, Boston's "Avenue of the Arts" Museum trustees hired architect Guy Lowell to create a master plan for a museum that could be built in stages as funding was obtained for each phase. In 1909, the first section of Lowell’s neoclassical design was completed; it featured a 500-foot (150 m) façade of cut granite along Huntington Avenue, the grand rotunda, and the associated exhibition galleries. The museum moved in later that year.
The second phase of construction, funded entirely by Mrs. Robert Dawson Evans, built a wing along the Back Bay Fens to house painting galleries. It opened in 1915. From 1916 through 1925, John Singer Sargent created the art that lines the rotunda and the associated colonnade. Numerous additions enlarged the building throughout the years, including the Decorative Arts Wing in 1928 (enlarged in 1968) and the Norma Jean Calderwood Garden Court and Terrace in 1997. The West Wing, designed by I. M. Pei, opened in 1981, and was renamed the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art in 2008. This wing now houses the museum's cafe, restaurant, and gift shop as well as exhibition space.2
The libraries at the Museum of Fine Arts house 320,000 items. The William Morris Hunt Memorial Library is named for the Vermont native and Boston painter and arts teacher.3 The museum holds many works by Hunt, including the 1866 Italian Peasant Boy.4
In the mid-2000s, the museum launched a major effort to renovate and expand its facilities. The work included a new Art of the Americas Wing that shows art from North, South, and Central America; redesigned and expanded education facilities; and extensive renovations of its European and Classical galleries, visitor services, and conservation facilities. Ultimately, the project added 133,500 square feet (12,400 m2) of space, enlarging the building by 28%.5
The Art of the Americas Wing was designed in a restrained, contemporary style by the London architectural firm of Foster and Partners, under the directorship of Thomas T. Difraia. CBT/Childs Bertman Tseckares Architects of Boston was the project's Architect of Record.
In 2006, groundbreaking ceremonies took place for the Art of the Americas Wing, which features art from North, South, and Central America. As part of the project, the adjacent garden courtyard was transformed into a climate-controlled year-round glass atrium enclosure, including restaurant seating. Landscape architects Gustafson Guthrie Nichol redesigned the Huntington Avenue and Fenway entrances, gardens, access roads, and interior courtyards.
The wing opened November 20, 2010, with free admission to the public.5 Mayor Thomas Menino declared it "Museum of Fine Arts Day," and more than 13,500 attended the festive opening. The day kicked off in the wing's enclosed glass-walled court with an ASL-interpreted speech by Malcolm Rogers. He spoke from the second-floor landing of the cantilevered glass staircase that connects the wing's three levels of galleries. “Our goal through this project is to make the MFA more accessible," said Rogers. “This is your museum."6
Many of the wing's 53 galleries are dedicated to individual artists or artistic movements, including pre-Columbian arts, Maya ceramics, Native North American art, African-American artists, the colonial portraiture of John Singleton Copley and Gilbert Stuart, the silverware of Paul Revere, the Hudson River School of landscape painting, folk art, photography, and works by John Singer Sargent.7 Sargent's The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit is symmetrically flanked by the pair of tall ceramic vases which are depicted in the painting.
The wing's glass-walled outer hallways display several sculptures from the Museum's collection, including the once controversial original Bacchante and Infant Faun which had been sculpted by Frederick William MacMonnies8 for the garden court of the Boston Public Library.
Several galleries are devoted to art by Western Hemisphere artists of the 20th-century. Industrial designers such as Charles and Ray Eames, Eva Zeisel, Eliot Noyes, and Russel Wright are represented in a gallery devoted to products designed for mass production.
Some highlights of the MFA's collection include:
- Egyptian artifacts including sculptures, sarcophagi, and jewelry.
- French impressionist and post-impressionist works including Paul Gauguin's Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?, as well as works by Manet, Renoir, Degas, Monet, Van Gogh, Cézanne and many others.
- The Young Shepherdess by Jean Francois Millet, underneath which an earlier painting previously presumed lost, The Captivity of the Jews in Babylon, was revealed by x-rays in 1984.
- 18th- and 19th-century American art, including many works by John Singleton Copley, Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent.
- Extensive collection of Chinese painting, calligraphy and imperial Chinese art, including some of the most treasured paintings in Chinese history.
- The largest museum collection of Japanese works under one roof in the world outside of Japan, including the Edward S. Morse collection of 5,000 pieces of Japanese pottery.
- The Gund Gallery which hosts temporary exhibits while a Japanese garden is constructed outside the museum itself.
Fitz Hugh Lane, Owl's Head, Penobscot Bay, Maine, 1862
Frederic Church, Rainy Season in the Tropics, 1866
William Morris Hunt, Niagara Falls, c. 1878
Winslow Homer, The Fog Warning, 1885
William Blake, Satan Watching the Caresses of Adam and Eve' (Illustration to 'Paradise Lost'), 1808, pen; watercolor on paper
John Constable, The Stour-Valley with the Church of Dedham, 1814
Jean-François Millet, The Sower, 1850
Edouard Manet, Street Singer, 1862
Edgar Degas, Racehorses at Longchamp, 1873–1875
Claude Monet, The Fort of Antibes, 1888
Claude Monet, Branch of the Seine near Giverny, 1897
- Art of Asia, Oceania, and Africa
- Art of Europe
- Art of the Americas
- Art of the Ancient World
- Contemporary Art
- Musical instruments
- Prints, Drawings, and Photographs
- Textile and Fashion Arts9
The Museum is renowned for its collection of artifacts from ancient Egypt.
King Mycerinus (Menkaura) and his queen
The museum also maintains one of the largest on-line art catalogs in the world,10 with information about over 346,000 items from its collection available on-line, many with an accompanying photograph.
As a result of the ongoing expansion of the museum, a number of standing exhibits are still in storage.
- Sylvester Rosa Koehler (1837–1900)—first Curator of Prints
- Fitzroy Carrington (1869–1954)—Curator of prints
- William George Constable (1887–1976)—Curator
- Ernest Fenollosa (1853–1908)—Curator of Oriental Art (1890–1896)
- Okakura Kakuzō (1863–1913)—Curator of Oriental Art (1904–1913)
- Ananda Coomaraswamy (1877–1947)—Curator of Oriental Art
- Jonathan Leo Fairbanks (1933–present)—Katharine Lane Weems Curator of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture (1970–1999)
- Theodore Stebbins (1938–present)—John Moors Cabot Curator of American Paintings (1977–1999)
In a seven-year fundraising campaign between 2001 and 2008—for a new wing, the endowment, and operating expenses—the museum managed to pull in $504 million plus $165 million worth of art.11 When rates on so-called auction rate securities—which large museums including the Museum of Fine Arts have tapped—skyrocketed during the credit crunch, the museum exited the auction rate market in 2008.12 By 2009, $1.5m were trimmed from the budget, and the museum increased revenues from travelling exhibitions, which include shows it sent to the for-profit Bellagio Gallery in Las Vegas and a ten-year-old partnership with a branch museum in Nagoya, Japan.13 In 2011, Moody's affirmed the museum's Aa2 rating on its $185 million in outstanding debt. The agency cited growing attendance, a large endowment, and positive cash flow as reasons to believe the museum's bonds would remain a stable bet.14
The Museum of Fine Arts has an acquisitions endowment, which totals $141 million and provides about $6.6 million a year. In 2011, the museum put eight paintings by Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, Gauguin and others on sale at Sotheby's, bringing in a total of $21.6 million, to pay for Man at His Bath by Gustave Caillebotte at a cost reported to be more than $15 million.15
- Natasha. "John Singer Sargent Virtual Gallery". Jssgallery.org. Retrieved 2012-12-17.
- "Architectural History - Museum of Fine Arts, Boston". Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
- "The William Morris Hunt Memorial Library, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston". Mfa.org. Retrieved 2012-12-17.
- "I''talian Peasant Boy'', 1866, permanent collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, gift of George Peabody Gardner". Mfa.org. Retrieved 2012-12-17.
- John Stephen Dwyer (2010-02-27). "A Museum Expansion Fact Sheet". Bostonlowbrow.com. Retrieved 2012-12-17.
- Byrne, Matt (November 21, 2010). "Public gets its turn to see the new wing at the MFA". The Boston Globe.
- "Art of the Americas | Museum of Fine Arts, Boston". Mfa.org. Retrieved 2012-04-09.
- "Bacchante and Infant Faun | Museum of Fine Arts, Boston". Mfa.org. Retrieved 2012-04-09.
- Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: About. ARTINFO. 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-29
- Judith H. Dobrzynski (November 10, 2010), Boston Museum Grows by Casting a Wide Net The New York Times.
- Matt Krantz (April 17, 2008), Credit crisis forces museums to be creative USA Today.
- Jason Edward Kaufman (January 8, 2009), How the richest US museums are weathering the storm The Art Newspaper.
- Shane Ferro (August 17, 2011), What Moody's Thinks of MoMA: Analyzing the Top 5 Credit Ratings for Art Museums ARTINFO.
- Judith H. Dobrzynski (March 14, 2012), "How an Acquisition Fund Burnishes Reputations". The New York Times.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston|
- Museum of Fine Arts—The official web site
- Works from MFA Boston were stored at the Williams College Museum of Art during World War II
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