|Location||465 Huntington Avenue|
Boston, MA 02115
|Public transit access||Museum of Fine Arts Ruggles Ruggles Ruggles|
The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, is the fifth largest museum 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 1.2 million visitors a year, it is the 52nd most visited art museum in the world as of 2019 .
Founded in 1870, the museum moved to its current location in 1909. The museum is affiliated with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts.
The Museum of Fine Arts was founded in 1870 and was initially located on the top floor of the Boston Athenaeum and most of its initial collection came from the Athenæum's Art Gallery.Francis Davis Millet, a local artist, was instrumental in starting the Art School affiliated with the museum, and in appointing Emil Otto Grundmann as its first director. In 1876, the museum moved to a highly ornamented brick Gothic Revival building designed by John Hubbard Sturgis and Charles Brigham, noted for its massed architectural terracotta. It was located in Copley Square at Dartmouth and St. James Streets. It was built almost entirely of brick and terracotta, which was imported from England, with some stone about its base.
In 1907, plans were laid to build a new home for the museum on Huntington Avenue in Boston's Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood, near the recently-constructed mansion that would later become the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Museum trustees decided to hire architect Guy Lowell to create a design for a museum that could be built in stages, as funding was obtained for each phase. Two years later, the first section of Lowell's neoclassical design was completed. It featured a 500-foot (150 m) façade of granite and a grand rotunda. The museum moved to its new location later that year; the Copley Plaza Hotel eventually replaced the old building.
The second phase of construction built a wing along The Fens to house paintings galleries. It was funded entirely by Maria Antoinette Evans Hunt, the wife of wealthy business magnate Robert Dawson Evans, and opened in 1915. From 1916 through 1925, the noted artist John Singer Sargent painted the frescoes that adorn the rotunda and the associated colonnades.
The Decorative Arts Wing was built in 1928 and expanded in 1968. An addition designed by Hugh Stubbins and Associates was built in 1966–70, and another by The Architects Collaborative in 1976. The West Wing, now the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art, was designed by I. M. Pei and opened in 1981. This wing now houses the museum's cafe, restaurant, meeting rooms, classrooms, and a giftshop/bookstore, as well as large exhibition spaces. The Tenshin-En Japanese Garden designed by Kinsaku Nakane opened in 1988, and the Norma Jean Calderwood Garden Court and Terrace opened in 1997.
In the mid-2000s, the museum launched a major effort to renovate and expand its facilities. In a seven-year fundraising campaign between 2001 and 2008 for a new wing, the endowment, and operating expenses, the museum managed to total over $500 million, in addition to acquiring over $160 million worth of art. During the global financial crisis between 2007 and 2012, the museum's budget was trimmed by $1.5 million and the museum increased revenues by conducting traveling exhibitions, which included a loan exhibition sent to the for-profit Bellagio in Las Vegas in exchange for $1 million. In 2011, Moody's Investors Service calculated that the museum had over $180 million in outstanding debt. However, the agency cited growing attendance, a large endowment, and positive cash flow as reasons to believe that the museum's finances would become stable in the near future.
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.
The renovation included a new Art of the Americas Wing to feature artwork from North, South, and Central America. In 2006, the groundbreaking ceremonies took place. The wing and adjoining Ruth and Carl J. Shapiro Family Courtyard were designed in a restrained, contemporary style by the London-based architectural firm Foster and Partners, under the directorship of Thomas T. Difraia and CBT/Childs Bertman Tseckares Architects. The landscape architecture firm Gustafson Guthrie Nichol redesigned the Huntington Avenue and Fenway entrances, gardens, access roads, and interior courtyards.
The wing opened on November 20, 2010 with free admission to the public. Mayor Thomas Menino declared it "Museum of Fine Arts Day", and more than 13,500 visitors attended the opening. The 12,000-square-foot (1,100 m2) glass-enclosed courtyard features a 42.5-foot (13.0 m) high glass sculpture, titled the Lime Green Icicle Tower, by Dale Chihuly. In 2014, the Art of the Americas Wing was recognized for its high architectural achievement by being awarded the Harleston Parker Medal, by the Boston Society of Architects.
In 2015, the museum renovated its Japanese garden, Tenshin-en. The garden, which originally opened in 1988, was designed by Japanese professor Kinsaku Nakane. The garden's kabukimon-style entrance gate was built by Chris Hall of Massachusetts, using traditional Japanese carpentry techniques.
The museum apologized in 2019 when African-American and mixed-race 12 and 13 year old visitors were targeted by employees and allegedly told "No food, no drink, and no watermelon," which is considered a racial slur in the USA. The museum said that staff would be re-trained. For some younger pupils, it was their first experience of racism. Following an investigation, the museum decided that several of its patrons had been deliberately racist, and banned those people from its grounds permanently.
The Museum of Fine Arts possesses materials from a wide variety of art movements and cultures. The museum also maintains a large online database with information on over 346,000 items from its collection, accompanied with digitized images.
Some highlights of the collection include:
The libraries at the Museum of Fine Arts house 320,000 items. The main branch, the William Morris Hunt Memorial Library, named after the noted American artist, is located off-site in Horticultural Hall.
Other notable works are in the collection, but the following examples are ones in the public domain and for which pictures are available.
John Singleton Copley, Paul Revere, 1768
Washington Allston, Self-Portrait, 1805
Charles Bird King, Still Life on a Green Table Cloth, 1815
Fitz Henry Lane, Salem Harbor, 1853
Martin Johnson Heade, Passion Flowers and Hummingbirds, c. 1870-1873
William Rimmer, Flight and Pursuit, 1872
Mary Cassatt, Tea, 1880
Childe Hassam, At Dusk (Boston Common at Twilight), 1886
Rosso Fiorentino, The Dead Christ with Angels, 1524-1527
El Greco, Fray Hortensio Félix Paravicino, 1609
Diego Velázquez, Don Baltasar Carlos with a Dwarf, 1632
Claude Lorrain, Apollo and the Muses on Mount Helion, 1680
Giovanni Paolo Panini, Picture Gallery with Views of Modern Rome, 1757
Francisco Goya, Seated Giant, 1818
Edouard Manet, Street Singer, 1862
Henri Regnault, Automedon with the Horses of Achilles, 1868
Edgar Degas, At the Races in the Countryside, 1869
Edgar Degas, Racehorses at Longchamp, 1873-1875
Paul Cézanne, Madame Cézanne in a Red Armchair, 1877
Claude Monet, Poppy Field in a Hollow near Giverny, 1888
Vincent van Gogh, Postman Joseph Roulin, 1888
Vincent van Gogh, La Berceuse, 1889
A bulletin has appeared under various titles from 1903 to 1983: