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The Museum of Fine Arts in Bostonmarker, Massachusettsmarker, 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 Artsmarker, in Nagoya, Japanmarker. 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 Athenaeummarker 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.

Originally located in a highly ornamented brick Gothic Revival building designed by John Hubbard Sturgis and Charles Brigham, located on Copley Squaremarker in the Back Baymarker 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 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 Fensmarker, 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.

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. Among the museum's holdings of Hunt's canvases is the 1866 Italian Peasant Boy.

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 Collegemarker and Yale Universitymarker. He serves as President of the Association of Art Museum Curators. Shackelford formerly worked at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houstonmarker, 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 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 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

Some highlights of the MFA's collection include:

More Collection Highlights

Image:MFA EgyptianRoom 19thc.jpg|Egyptian room in former museum building, Copley Square, 19th c.Image:MedievalRoom MFABoston 19thc.jpg|Medieval room in former museum building, Copley Square, 19th c.Image:Woher kommen wir Wer sind wir Wohin gehen wir.jpg|Paul Gauguin's Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? (D'où venons-nous? Que sommes-nous? Où allons-nous?) (1897)Image:Boston_museum_Egyptology.jpg|The Museum of Fine Arts is renowned for its collection of artifacts from ancient Egyptmarker (this exhibit was used on Reading Rainbow's fifty-fourth episode "Mummies Made In Egypt", based on the book by Aliki on March 30, 1989)Image:Mycerinus.jpg|King Mycerinus (Menkaura) and his queenImage:Boston_MFA.jpg|European Paintings and Sculptures at the Boston Museum of Fine ArtsImage:Boston MFA Back Bay.JPG|Former museum building, Copley Square, Boston, 19th c.

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


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


  1. John Singer Sargent Virtual Gallery
  2. The William Morris Hunt Memorial Library, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston,
  3. Italian Peasant Boy, 1866, permanent collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, gift of George Peabody Gardner,

External links

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