Museum of Fine Arts (MFA)

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Not only is Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) one of the United States’ largest art museums, and one of the most well-attended, it is also home to one of the most comprehensive collections of art available for view in the Americas with an awe-inspiring total of more than 450,000 pieces. Located in the heart of the city, at 465 Huntington Ave, The MFA is one of the most visited and well-respected of all Boston cultural attractions.

History/About the Museum

The museum itself was founded back in 1870 when a collection of paintings was acquired from the Boston Athenaeum Art Gallery and used as a catalyst to start the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, a small, but well-respected fine arts college which offers undergraduate and graduate degrees and is still in operation today. For the first 37 years of its existence, the museum was located in a Gothic Revival building in Copley Square, but in 1907 the plans for the Huntington Avenue location were formed.

Known as the city’s “Avenue of the Arts,” Huntington was the perfect location for the new museum. Boston native and architect, Guy Lowell was hired to design the new building and develop a master plan. Done in the neoclassical design school, the new museums’ first main piece was completed in 1909. This was its most prominent feature, the 500-foot cut granite façade, which set the tone for the completion of the project in the ensuing years. The revamped Museum of Fine Arts was completed six years later, opening to the public in 1915.

For the remainder of the 20th century, many additions were created to make room for the rapidly-expanding collection of the MFA. This includes the Decorative Arts wing, built in 1928 and expanded again in 1968, the West Wing in 1981, and the Norma Jean Calderwood Garden Court and Terrace in 1997. However, the largest expansion of the museum to date took place in the mid-2000s when 135,000 square feet was added to the existing building.

Today, the MFA features four floors of exhibition space offering art from most periods of human history. Highlights of the MFA collection include both those from its American Collection, featuring work by John Singleton, Winslow Homer, and Fredric Church, as well as its European Collection, which includes the most comprehensive gathering of works by Monet outside of Paris, as well as such venerated names as Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, and Vincent Van Gogh. Other art works include those from the ancient world up to the contemporary scene and pieces hailing from Asia through the Americas.

Main Attraction

With a collection as vast as MFA’s a game plan is certainly in order before planning a trip to this massive museum. It is open daily with late night hours Wednesday through Friday evenings. The museum does close on a handful of holidays, such as Independence Day and Thanksgiving, however.

Admission includes admittance to all of the museum’s galleries throughout the day as well as free docent-led tours and museum talks. Prices are for Adults, Seniors (65+), and Students (18+ with ID), with children under 6 always free and those 7-17 free outside of regular school hours. The museum also frequently hosts free or donation-based viewing days as well as free admittance each Wednesday after 4 pm.

The museum offers a host of group tour and field trip opportunities as well as art connections and classes aimed at children. There are three different shops inside of the museum along with four dining options at various price points. Special exhibitions, talks, and programs are also frequently offered including films, music, and art classes.

Why It’s a Must-See

With one of the largest permanent collections in the U.S. as well as more famous names than most of us can recount, the opportunities at the MFA are pretty much unmatched in the New England fine art world. Whether an artist yourself, or simply one who enjoys and reveres talent, there is something fun and special to do at MFA, making it an excellent addition to any Boston trip.

Where to Buy It

There are a number of ways you can enjoy admission to this attraction.

1. Purchase a ticket from the Museum of Fine Arts when you get there.

2.   .

3. Purchase as part of a money saving package. Popular examples to the right.

4. Purchase a Tourist pass. The Museum of Fine Arts is available on the Go Boston Card and Boston CityPass.