Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: Wikis


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Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Established 1870
Location 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115
Visitor figures Over 1 million visits annually
Director Malcolm Rogers

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, is one of the largest museums in the United States attracting over one million visitors a year. It contains over 450,000 works of art, making it one of the most comprehensive collections in the Americas. The museum was founded in 1870 and its current location dates to 1909. In addition to its curatorial undertakings, 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 current director of the museum is Malcolm Rogers.



Former museum building, Copley Square, Boston, 19th c.


The Museum was founded in 1870 and opened in 1876, with a large portion 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]

Originally located in a highly ornamented brick Gothic Revival building designed by John Hubbard Sturgis and Charles Brigham, located on Copley Square in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston. The Copley Square building was notable for its large-scale use of architectural terra cotta in the United States. The Museum moved to its current building on Huntington Avenue, Boston's "Avenue of the Arts," in 1909.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, seen from the Fenway, ca.1925


The museum's present building was commenced in 1907, when 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. The first section of Lowell’s neoclassical design was completed in 1909, and featured a 500-foot (150 m) façade of cut granite along Huntington Avenue, the grand rotunda, and the associated exhibition galleries. Mrs. Robert Dawson Evans then funded the entire cost of building the next section of the museum’s master plan. This wing along the Back Bay Fens, opened in 1915 and houses painting galleries. 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 1968 and the Norman Jean Calderwood Garden Court and Terrace in 1997. This wing now houses the museum's cafe, restaurant, and gift shop as well as exhibition space.

Cyrus Dallin's statue "Appeal to the Great Spirit" stands outside the Museum's south entrance

The libraries at the Museum of Fine Arts house an extensive collection of 320,000 items. The William Morris Hunt Memorial Library is named in honor of the Vermont native and Boston painter and arts teacher, many of whose works are in the museum's permanent collection.[2] Among the museum's holdings of Hunt's canvases is the 1866 Italian Peasant Boy.[3]

The current president of the Museum of Fine Arts is George T.M. Shackelford, formerly the museum's chair of European art. A native of North Carolina, Shackelford graduated from Dartmouth College and Yale University. He serves as President of the Association of Art Museum Curators. Shackelford formerly worked at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, as the curator of European painting and sculpture.

2000s expansion

In the mid-2000s, the museum embarked on a major renovation project. This includes the construction of a new wing for the arts of the Americas, redesigned and expanded education facilities, and extensive renovations of its European galleries, visitor services, and conservation facilities. This expansion will increase the size of the MFA by 28% with an additional 133,500 square feet (12,400 m2) of space.

The new wing was designed in a restrained, contemporary style by the London architectural firm of Foster and Partners, under the directorship of Lord (Norman) Foster. Groundbreaking for the addition took place in 2006. In the process, the present garden courtyard will be transformed into a climate-controlled year-round glass enclosure. Landscape architects Gustafson Guthrie Nichol have redesigned the Huntington Avenue and Fenway entrances, gardens, access roads, and interior courtyards. The opening of the new wing is scheduled for late 2010.

Collection and exhibits

"Nine Dragons" handscroll section, by Chen Rong, 1244 AD, Chinese Song Dynasty, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Some highlights of the MFA's collection include:

More Collection Highlights

The Museum also maintains one of the largest on-line art catalogs in the world at, 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.

Notable Curators

  • Sylvester Rosa Koehler (1837-1900) First Curator of Prints
  • Fitzroy Carrington (born 1869) 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
  • Robert Treat Paine (d. 1965) - Curator of Japanese Art (1963-1965)
  • Anne Nishimura Morse (1956-present)-William and Helen Pounds Senior Curator of Japanese Art (1985-present)

Notable Directors

George Peabody Gardner


Admission to the museum is charged at most times, but there is free admission on Wednesdays after 4 p.m. The Museum is open until 9:45 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The museum's University Membership program offers area college students free general admission and discounts on special exhibits upon presentation of a valid college photo ID.

See also


External links

Coordinates: 42°20′21″N 71°05′39″W / 42.33917°N 71.09417°W / 42.33917; -71.09417


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