Museum Studies at Tufts University

Exploring museums, ideas, and conversation

Tag: mfa boston (page 1 of 3)

Here and There: Mixing Business with Pleasure

Here: First, sign up for Drawing in Pubs, a ten week session hosted by the MFA that meets in a different pub each Thursday and covers basic drawing skills in pencil and ink. Open to all levels over age 21.

Next: Get your tickets for the Gardner’s After Hours Opening Bash on January 19. Be one of the first to explore the new wing and revisit the historic galleries. There will be drinks, snacks, a concert in the concert hall, a band in the courtyard, art activities and more.

Visit the MFA for more information about Drawing in Pubs. January 5-March 15. $285.

Visit the Gardner for details, ticket options and to purchase tickets. January 19, 7pm. $40-60.

Art or Toy?

Last week, I visited the MFA with my friend and her five month old son, Lucas. We’re doing our part to create a museum advocate of the future. Lucas was especially engaged in the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art. He remained content for a surprising amount of time, simply looking at all of the interesting objects around him. Spotting Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ Untitled (Beginning), a green and silver beaded curtain which is deliberately hung as a partition between two galleries, my friend immediately walked Lucas through it. When she turned to pass through a second time, the employee stationed nearby informed her, rather unkindly, “it’s art, not a toy.” Now I understand the need to protect a work of art, but this particular object is meant to be experienced by touching, looking closely and even listening to the lovely sound it makes when the beads are moved. I don’t imagine they would have hung it in a busy entryway if it wasn’t durable enough to endure constant handling. So, if a visitor is handling an object with appropriate care, why shouldn’t they be allowed to experience it more than once? If a visitor, even a five month old one, is interested enough to linger instead of simply passing through en route to something else, isn’t that a good thing? Visitors are often uncomfortable in museums; they may feel unsure of the etiquette and what they may and may not touch. It concerns me that by encouraging visitors to touch a work of art, but then reprimanding them for wanting to touch it again, employees of the museum may cause visitors to feel uncomfortable and embarrassed. That surely was not the intention when it was installed. So what do you think? Can it be art and a toy? Is it less of a work of art if visitors are allowed to touch it as much as they like? I encourage you to visit and see it for yourself. Be sure to pay close attention the first time around though, because you might not be allowed to pass through twice.

Here and There: The Real Housewife of Beacon Hill

Find out about exciting local exhibitions and programs that make a connection with “Here and There.”

Here: First, attend Historic New England’s “Women of Beacon Hill” walking tour, dedicated to four centuries of fascinating women. The tour features a diverse group of women activists, educators, and philanthropists, including Hepzibah Swan. The group visits the exterior of Mrs. Swan’s home, as well as the exteriors of three matching homes built for her daughters.

There: Next, see some of the sumptuous French furnishings that decorated the interior of Mrs. Swan’s homes, on view at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

Historic New England offers the “Women of Beacon Hill” tour in the spring and fall. It is scheduled to occur next on March 25, 2012, but tickets are already available for purchase. Objects from the Swan Collection can be found at the MFA in the Art of Europe wing on the second floor.

Here and There: Ancient Life and Love

Find out about exciting local exhibitions and programs that make a connection with “Here and There.”

Here: First, encounter remnants of everyday life in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius in “A Day in Pompeii,” at the Museum of Science.

There: Next, head up to the peak of Mount Olympus and spend some time among the gods in “Aphrodite and the Gods of Love,” at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

Both exhibitions feature fascinating objects on loan from Italy. This is an amazing opportunity to visit them in our own backyard. The exhibitions are open until February 12 and February 20, respectively.

Beauty as Duty at the MFA

Imagine that each person in your family has 36 coupons per year as a clothing allowance. A coat might require fifteen coupons, while a scarf might require 2 coupons. How far can you stretch those coupons? What do you do if a clothing item gets damaged? What do you do when children grow out of the clothes they already have? These were real concerns for the British public in June 1941 when clothing rationing was put into effect. Despite these limitations, however, there was a surge of colorful clothing and propaganda scarves. The exhibition, “Beauty as Duty: Textiles on the Homefront in WWII Britain,” gets its title from these items.

Set against a backdrop of grim, gray walls, the cheerful colors and eye-catching prints of the dresses and scarves on exhibit really stand out like beacons. Likewise, after years of wartime hardship, these fashions were created to catch the eye and boost morale. Though these items were made to meet standards of utility and austerity (limited fabric, buttons, and trim), they are examples of making the best of very little. Not only for beauty, many of the scarves contain messages of patriotism and support for Allied forces and reminders of safety and discretion. Through the use of textiles, photographs, video, and materials distributed by the British government, the exhibition sets up the juxtaposition of determined positivity during a dark period of struggle for the British public. The exhibition can be viewed at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston through May 28, 2012.

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