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Boston and the Arts

boston museums

Boston is a very artistic city in many ways. 

Not only do we have great museums, wonderful public art, but also world-class performing arts organizations. Fall is the time when these organizations start new seasons. 

The Museum of Fine Arts (the MFA) is a very large museum with collections of impressionist, Chinese, Japanese and historical paintings. They have also opened a “Hall of the Americas” featuring art from North and South America. They say this season is about “ Art, Ideas, Events, Now” and are opening with a free overnight party on Saturday September 17th.

The Isabella Stuart Gardner is a small jewel of a museum. It was originally built as a house, an exact replica of an Italian villa. The Gardners were a wealthy Boston family who had the house built and then furnished it with art bought in Europe from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. Mrs. Gardner died, and when Mrs. Gardner made her will she gave her house and everything in it to Boston if the City would promise not to change anything. Everything had to be presented exactly as it was on the day she died. Boston agreed and has had the museum ever since. Approximately 20 years ago there was a robbery. Robbers dressed as police officers stole 15 paintings, some considered priceless. Then, they vanished. This remains an ongoing mystery- who took them and where are they?
Be sure to visit the beautiful garden. They have a full time gardener who produces amazing displays. The Gardner has also recently opened an adjacent building to house more modern art.

The Institute of Contemporary Art is on the ocean with a theater that uses the water as a backdrop. This is the “edgiest” museum in Boston and houses not only art, but dance and theater performances.

The museums at Harvard- The Fogg, The Sackler and the Busch-Reisinger Museum are also very interesting and focus on smaller exhibits. At the moment, they have a show on “Indigenous Art from Australia.”

Public art in Boston includes many historical statues, such as the famous “Make Way for Ducklings” and even a huge gas tank. The Rose Kennedy Greenway is home to revolving exhibits (depending on weather), and now features an exhibit from Ai Wei Wei depicting the animals of the Chinese calendar. Public art is wonderful because everyone can see it easily and it’s free!

Many local dance companies gear up in the fall and many touring dance companies visit Boston. The Boston Ballet opens with Le Corsaire, a North American premiere! Next comes “The Nutcracker”, a must see if you’ve never seen it. The Boston Ballet has blossomed into one of the top companies in the country.

The Jose Mateo Ballet company is also restarting performances. This is a smaller company with an unusual home. They perform in a church outside Harvard with the dancers on the floor and a cabaret styled set of tables on a tiered floor. You can get drinks and snacks before the ballet and at intermission.

The world class Boston Symphony Orchestra will also be starting up. Symphony Hall is known to be acoustically perfect so no matter what piece you hear, you’ll hear it wonderfully. The BSO has taken on a youthful audience since Andris Nelsons has taken over as conductor. Check out the full schedule.

Described as an “awe-inspiring, global perspective Boston landmark”, the Mapparium is located at the Mary Baker Eddy Library in the Christian Science Center of Boston. (These buildings themselves are stunning, excellent examples of Boston’s historic architecture). The Mapparium is a large stained-glass globe that you actually walk into. You are, for once, the center of the world. Newly installed LCD lights produce even deeper colors in the Italian glass, which is something you won’t see anywhere else.

 

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