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MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, BOSTON

Over its 140-year-plus history, the MFA has collected around 500,000 pieces from an array of cultures and civilizations, ranging from ancient Egyptian tomb treasures to stylish modern artworks. In 2010, the museum opened its long-anticipated Art of the Americas wing, designed by Norman Foster, which displays works created in North, Central, and South America.

NEED TO KNOW

prac_info 465 Huntington Ave (Ave of the Arts) • 617 267 9300 • www.mfa.org • “T” station: Museum (green line/E train) • Open 10am–5pm Sat– Tue, 10am–10pm Wed–Fri • Adm $23–$25

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  • The MFA has four restaurants and cafés, which escalate in quality and price as you move from the courtyard level upward. Ideal for a post-gallery drink.
  • On weekends, the MFA’s Family Art Cart in the Shapiro Family Courtyard provides activities and materials to use in the galleries. Consult the museum’s website for a full schedule of events.
  • Admission to the museum on Wednesdays 4–9:45pm is by voluntary donation.

Gallery Guide

European, Classical, Far Eastern, and Egyptian art and artifacts occupy the original MFA building. The informative Visitor Center is located on Level 1. The Linde Wing for Contemporary Art, on the west side of the museum, also houses the museum shop, cafés, and a restaurant. Arts from the Americas are spread across four levels in the Art of the Americas wing, on the east side of the museum. The wing has 49 galleries, plus a state-of-the-art auditorium, and displays over 5,000 works of art.

1. The Fog Warning

This late 19th-century painting by Winslow Homer is part of a series in which the artist depicted the difficult lives of the local fishermen and their families.

2. John Singleton Copley Portraits

Self-taught, Boston-born Copley made a name for himself by painting the most affluent and influential Bostonians of his day, from pre-revolutionary figures like John Hancock to early American presidents such as John Adams.

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Mr and Mrs Issac Winslow, a portrait by Copley

3. Egyptian Royal Pectoral

This extremely rare chest ornament is nearly 4,000 years old. A vulture is depicted with a cobra on its left wing, poised to strike.

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A rare chest ornament

4. Sargent Murals

Having secured some of John Singer Sargent’s most important portraiture in the early 20th century, the MFA went one step further and commissioned the artist to paint murals and bas-reliefs on its central rotunda and colonnade. They feature gods and heroes from classical mythology.

5. Dance at Bougival

This endearing image (1883) of a young couple dancing is one of the most beloved of Renoir’s works. It exemplifies the artist’s knack for taking a timeless situation and making it contemporary by dressing his subjects in the latest fashions.

6. Silverwork by Paul Revere

Famed for his midnight ride, Revere (see Paul) was also known for his masterful silverwork. The breadth of his ability is apparent in the museum’s magnificent 200-piece collection.

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Paul Revere’s skillful silverwork on display

7. Christ in Majesty with Symbols

Acquired in 1919 from a small Spanish church, this medieval fresco had an amazingly complex journey to Boston, which involved waterproofing it with lime and Parmesan for safe transportation.

8. La Japonaise

Claude Monet’s 1876 portrait reflects a time when Japanese culture fascinated Europe’s most style-conscious circles. The model, interestingly, is Monet’s wife, Camille.

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Claude Monet’s stunnigly detailed La Japonaise

9. Japanese Temple Room

With its wood paneling and subdued lighting, the Temple Room evokes ancient Japanese shrines atop mist-enshrouded mountains. The statues, which date from as early as the 7th century, depict prominent figures from Buddhist texts.

10. Statue of King Aspelta

This statue of the 6th-century BC Nubian king, Aspelta, was recovered in 1920 at Nuri in present-day Sudan during a Museum of Fine Arts/Harvard joint expedition.

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A historic statue of the Nubian king, Aspelta

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