As we reflect on the year that is coming to a close, it is increasingly evident that our communities need and want us to serve as space of convening and sharing—through the lens of art. We, at your MFA, hear from visitors over and over again their desire to gather, to share experiences, and to reflect together on how creative life can create a more tolerant civic space and influence engaged public conversations. As a vital cultural institution in our city, we commit to asking many questions, working closely with others and serving our community.
I am pleased to share with you the Museum’s Annual Report for the fiscal year July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, which highlights a range of accomplishments and the launch of programs anticipating our future. A major achievement of the past year was a moment about our future—in June 2017, the Board of Trustees approved our new Strategic Plan, MFA 2020.
2020 marks the 150th anniversary of our founding, an important milestone by any measure. The Strategic Plan will deliver us to that moment with ambition and clarity, and will establish a solid platform for future growth. The plan is the culmination of an integrated effort among staff, volunteers, and governance that articulates our ambition to become an institution of the moment and of the community, deeply embedded in this place and our many histories, with these five imperatives: Collect Purposefully, Collaborate Generously, Invite Boldly, Welcome Warmly, and Engage Deeply.
In a year of generosity and renewed commitment to excellence among staff, volunteers and supporters, one collecting moment stands out. In October, we had the honor of announcing a commitment to give 113 17th-century Dutch and Flemish paintings from Boston-area collectors Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo and Susan and Matthew Weatherbie—the largest gift of European paintings in MFA history. Funding to establish a Center for Netherlandish Art at the MFA (the first of its kind in the US), and the Van Otterloos’ gift of a major research library to serve as a resource for the Center, are generous additions to their gifts of art.
Be sure to pay a visit to the Museum’s galleries dedicated to Dutch and Flemish art to see “Masterpieces of Dutch and Flemish Painting”, an installation now on view celebrating the gift by integrating paintings from the Van Otterloo and Weatherbie collections into the MFA’s collection and galleries. We are grateful to our generous donors and supporters for helping the MFA and its collections grow with vision and purpose.
One programming moment among many was the opening of “Takashi Murakami: Lineage of Eccentrics,” a collaboration between the MFA, Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami, and Tokyo-based professor of art history, Nobuo Tsuji. Our exhibition positions dramatic room-sized works by Murakami (some shown publicly for the first time) alongside scrolls, screens, and sculpture from the MFA’s collection, such as Shoghaku’s 35-foot-long Dragon and Clouds (1763). The exhibition rewards close looking, guided by an artist completely of today’s social media moment, a scholar who revels in the unconventional vision of Japanese artists past and present, and treasures of art from the MFA’s unrivalled collection.
With our Strategic Plan active in the meeting rooms and hallways of the MFA, with the knowledge gained by working with others, and the enthusiastic encouragement from our visitors and the community, we are ready to try new things and reach further. Stay with us, engage, and help us be the institution you want us to be.
Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year,
Ann and Graham Gund Director