The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, known locally as the MFA, houses an incredible 450,000 works of art from Gauguin to Monet to Rembrandt, and even a few pieces from Van Gogh. In this three story building you find the Arts of Europe, Arts of the Americas, sculptures, furniture, vases, contemporary pieces, plus a bookstore, and a cafe. You can and will get lost in the 4th largest museum in the United States; it is a maze of beautiful showcases that glitter and dazzle, and evoke and inspire. The MFA is on everyone’s must do list when you come to Boston, and we have to agree. You don’t want to pass up this museum.
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Boston Museum of Fine Arts
465 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115
Hours: Saturday – Tuesday 10a – 5p | Wednesday – Friday 10a – 10p
Price: Adults $25 | Kids 7-17 $10 (non school hours) | Holidays – Free
This is actually the first time that we’ve braved a museum of this caliber with our children. In Hiroshima, we visited the Peace Memorial Museum and we were impressed by how our children handled the content, and the maturity they displayed with their behavior in looking at the exhibits. When it comes to our six year old twins at least, we feel they are old enough to begin to understand and appreciate the diversity of art and culture that our world has to offer. Our daughter is extremely talented in art, which makes sense considering her father, and her grandmother are both artists, and we want to give her a wide breadth of experience in which to explore that talent.
Each collection is housed in either a narrow corridor, or a small rectangular room. This makes it easy to keep track of little ones. Artwork is arranged along the exterior of the room, and in the center of the room where available, allowing for wide pathways. Strollers are welcome inside the museum, and is it fully wheelchair accessible, but backpacks cannot be worn. A sensor covers each piece of art, and will sound when someone gets too close or touches something they shouldn’t be touching. This is a very easy indicator on which behaviors are, and are not allowed – for all age groups.
The main art is located on the 1st and 2nd floors, and in 3 hours we estimate we covered ⅔ of the museum. The layout was a bit confusing at first, but once we got our bearings we were able to cut down on the criss-crossing of paths. Because the exhibits are often changing, the maps do not indicate what specifically will be in each area, offering a new experience each time you come visit. Both floors of the Museum of Fine Arts are nearly identical replicas of each other in terms of what type of art is showcased, whether that be the Art of Asia, the Art of Europe or the Art of the Americas. We viewed art in numerous forms including photographs, historical pieces of furniture, sculptures and jewelry, and classical pieces.
The 1st floor also is where you’ll find daily activities. During our visit there was an art table for metal etching. Square pieces of copper and silver were available for patrons to sketch a unique design using a thick wooden pick.
There was also a band and salsa dancers, and patrons were invited to come up and dance as well!
It was loud, boisterous and full of life. It was fun to participate, and gave the children an opportunity to create their own art. They were definitely sad when it was time to go and asked for a few extra pieces of material to take with them.
The 2nd floor of the Museum of Fine Arts houses the most well known names. As soon as we found the hidden elevators, we encountered one of the museum curators. She introduced herself to our children and gave them an assignment to find all of the pieces of bread in the gallery we were currently viewing. They promptly went from painting to painting and reported back. Then she asked them to find all the tulips, then ships, then goblets. She suggested to us that along with reading the descriptions and studying the paintings, this was a great way for children to take part in learning about the art and experiencing the museum in their own way. We were very grateful for learning this fantastic trick for keeping them invested and interested. This is an excellent world schooling opportunity and assignment!
Impressionists, such as Renoir and Monet, are prominently featured and their work is stunning to view up close. It is intense to see such magnificent paintings that we have admired and studied throughout our lives, and view some of their lesser known paintings that feature different facets of their talents. Their art is poised side by side next to other artists who are lesser known, but were great influencers of these famous artists, and of the time.
Rembrandt’s work is devastatingly impressive in person. 18 feet tall; detailed and painted with every shade of black. Van Gogh’s illustrative style and brush strokes are dominant. They are beautiful, of course, but it is significant to witness these exceptional pieces in person and see the technique that was artfully and deliberately used in their creation.
You’ll find works here from the 14th century through today at the Museum of Fine Arts. The names of some of the pieces were as interesting as the subjects themselves; not so much opaque and mysterious as direct and specific: Breakfast with overturned wine goblets. There was even an ancient copy of the Qur’an.
I loved, in particular, experiencing this museum alongside my husband who came to life talking about the different artists, styles, and techniques. He discussed color theory, composition and perspective with me and the twins, heightening our experience and knowledge.
► For Kids: Our six year old twins enjoyed seeing the different types of art, and of course, loved creating their own at the free projects class offered on the first floor. They savored the art that reminded them of their dad’s pieces, and loved when we explained to them specifically what the types of art were or asked them how it made them feel. After meeting up with one of the curators at the Museum of Fine Arts they took on a new appreciation for the pieces of art they were seeing, and loved coming up with their own tasks for surveying the work. Our baby got tired pretty quick, and we resorted to giving her a phone to play with quietly half way through. We thought 1.5 hours of viewing classical and contemporary art was pretty impressive on her end.
Have you been to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston? What was your favorite piece? Does it rank high on your favorite places, or favorite museums?
► Nap-Time Version: An overview of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, including how to experience this museum with a world schooling perspective.