Where to see art in Boston
Museum of Fine Arts
Founded in 1870, the MFA moved from Copley Square to its current home, a neoclassical granite building on Huntington Avenue—the so-called "Avenue of the Arts"—in 1909. The globe-spanning collection encompasses 450,000 objects. Of particular note are the collection of American art, including Paul Revere's silver Liberty Bowl and paintings by John Singleton Copley; the Egyptian collection, much of which was acquired through excavations in conjunction with Harvard University in the first half of the 20th century; the Japanese collection (the first in America and one of the finest in the world); and the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, including an impressive array by Monet—the second largest collection of his work in the US, after the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.The Upper Rotunda in the centre of the building is adorned by John Singer Sargent's spectacular murals, which pay tribute to the museum's role as guardian of the arts through references to Greek mythology. As well as the vast permanent collection, all of which is presented in an accessible way with a contemporary eye for design and placement, the MFA hosts major temporary exhibitions on such diverse themes as couture fashion and Spanish art during the reign of Philip III and retrospectives of greats such as Edward Hopper.A new American wing (covering the art of North, Central and South America) and an enclosed courtyard, designed by the firm of British architect Norman Foster, famous for the con
Institute of Contemporary Art
Once crammed into a tiny building in Back Bay, the ICA moved to its spacious new home in late 2006, and is now the cultural cornerstone of the waterfront. With its 65,000sq ft floor space, the dramatic, glass-walled building houses galleries, a theatre and a café.The museum prides itself on being a platform for challenging works—the permanent collection includes pieces by the likes of Julian Opie, Paul Chan and Mona Hatoum, while changing shows explore broader themes that unite different artists' work, or focus on individual luminaries (Louise Bourgeois, Philip-Lorca diCorcia and the like).After you've contemplated the art, retreat to the deck outside, with its expansive vista over the harbor. The building has such unusual features as a downward-sloping Mediatheque that culminates in a front window framing a patch of water.
Peabody Essex Museum
Less than 20 miles north of Boston in Salem, the Peabody Essex Museum is home to one of the largest art collections in New England (around 1 million works in total). The backbone of the museum's stock is maritime art, but there is also African, American, Asian, Native American and Oceanic art from which to choose. For a break in the appreciation, relax in the sunny atrium or grab lunch in the outdoor Garden Restaurant.