Announcement Highlights include Fundraising to Support Renovation of Conservation Labs, New Acquisitions, “MFA Mobile” Initiative and Board Appointments 

BOSTON, MA (September 16, 2014)—On the heels of the 20th anniversary celebration of Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), the MFA’s Board of Trustees gathered yesterday for their annual meeting. Rogers shared recent news including new acquisitions, gifts of art and fundraising, highlighting $2.3 million raised in support of education, access and community programs. Additionally, it was announced that the Museum has raised $7 million for a transformational renovation of its Paintings Conservation, Objects Conservation and Scientific Research Laboratories—ensuring the care and preservation of the Museum’s world-renowned collection into the future.

Renovation of Paintings, Objects Conservation and Scientific Research Labs

Renovation of the MFA’s Paintings Conservation, Objects Conservation and Scientific Research Laboratories will be supported by $7 million in grants from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation and an anonymous foundation, along with matching MFA funds. The Museum has retained Samuel Anderson Architects (New York, NY) to design the new spaces, scheduled to be completed sometime in 2016. Renovations will improve and expand labs situated in the Museum’s original 1909 building (designed by Boston architect Guy Lowell), which first opened in 1970. 

The plan will expand the Paintings Conservation Studio and Objects Conservation Lab—the two largest and most active conservation spaces in the Museum—increasing their size nearly 50 percent. Each lab will gain 1,000 square feet, along with other improvements that include open floor plans that maximize natural light, heightened ceilings, modern mechanical and technological infrastructure, optimal adjacencies of functions and workflow, a fully upgraded building envelope, and additional storage for objects and records. Upgrades will allow the Museum to consolidate all objects conservation activity into one space, increasing efficiency and allowing for treatment of larger sculpture within the lab for the first time in MFA history. The Paintings Studio will also be able to accommodate multiple large-scale projects, and the Scientific Research Laboratory will be updated and consolidated, as part of its relocation to a long-term interim space on the first floor of the George D. and Margo Behrakis Wing for Art of the Ancient World.

The MFA’s conservation team of 34 conservators and scientists treat an average of 6,000 works each year—ranging from paintings and furniture to objects and textiles. In addition to performing conservation treatments, they examine and evaluate artwork and develop and implement methods to ensure the safety and stability of objects. Their efforts can be seen across the Museum, such as in the newly renovated galleries dedicated to Wine, Poets, and Performers in Ancient Greece , where nearly all of the 230 objects on view—among the oldest in the MFA’s collection—were restored, some for the first time in a century.

Gallery Renovations

Following the meeting, members of the Board were the first to see the Museum’s three new galleries dedicated to Wine, Poets, and Performers in Ancient Greece, which open to the public today. The new galleries, complete with multimedia displays and a nine-stop MFA Guide mobile tour, focus on three themes: “Homer and the Epics” (Krupp Gallery), “Dionysos and the Symposium” and “Theater and Performance.” The poetry and drama of this storied civilization come alive through marble and bronze sculptures, ceramic and metal vases and terracotta figurines, dating from the sixth century to the fourth century BC. The Greek galleries are part of the MFA’s gallery renovation initiative, which also included the Benin Kingdom and Art of the English Regency galleries (both opened in 2013), Kunstkammer (opened in June 2014) and the Sidney and Esther Rabb Gallery of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism in France (renovated in June 2014). Over the past 10 years, 102 of the Museum’s 147 galleries have been built or renovated.

New Acquisitions

Over the past fiscal year (July 1, 2013–June 30, 2014), the MFA acquired 4,989 works of art, the majority of which were gifts from generous donors. Acquisitions ranged from contemporary fashion and American furniture to early photography and European landscape paintings. 

At the annual Board meeting, Rogers highlighted recent acquisitions. For instance, from the Art of the Americas department, he showed a pair of chairs (1881-1882) designed and made by Herter Brothers for the New York mansion of William H. Vanderbilt, given by Distinguished Benefactor and Overseer Jan Adelson and her husband Warren; the portrait Thomas and Henry Sergeant (about 1787) by Charles Willson Peale, which descended in the family and is a gift of Jay P. and Pamela D. Moffat in memory of Margaret Perry; and the iconic Portrait of John F. Kennedy (1967) by Jamie Wyeth, a partial gift of Phyllis and Jamie Wyeth. European art acquisitions included two landscapes: Winter Landscape (1908) by Gustaf Edolf Fjaestad, purchased through the Tompkins Collection; and Old English House by Moonlight (1883) by John Atkinson Grimshaw, given by Great Benefactor and Trustee William R. Elfers and his sister Jane Elfers Muther in memory of their parents, William and Ann Elfers. Photography acquisitions included: the rare photograph Chartres Cathedral: Porch of the South Transept (about 1854) by Charles Nègre, purchased in part with funds provided by Distinguished Benefactor Charles W. Millard III and a gift of Jessie H. Wilkinson; and Ori Gersht’s Blow Up: Untitled 8, 2007 (2007), an anonymous gift.

Fashion acquisitions ranged from a silk jacquard floor-length dress from the fall 2010 collection of the late Alexander McQueen, a Museum purchase with funds donated by the Fashion Council, to a 22-karat gold necklace (about 1875) by French jeweler Eugene Fontenay, purchased with funds donated by Eminent Benefactor Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation. Other notable acquisitions included: the masterful Chinese landscape painting Southern Hills After Spring Rain (late 17th–early 18th century) by Wang Yuanqi, donated by Great Benefactor Wan-go Weng, and Untitled (2007), the first sculpture by Anish Kapoor to enter the MFA’s collection, supported by the Catherine and Paul Buttenwieser Fund, the Henry and Lois Foster Contemporary Purchase Fund, the Ives Family Fund, and the Marshall H. Gould Fund, as well as direct contributions from the Vance Wall Foundation. 

“MFA Mobile” Campaign

Rogers also announced a new technology initiative, the “MFA Mobile” campaign. Launching this week, it will allow visitors to enhance their experiences with the MFA’s collection and exhibitions by using their smartphones in the galleries to access videos and additional rich content on mfa.org. Signage throughout the Museum will encourage visitors to look for the “MFA Mobile” symbol in galleries to find special online content complementing the works on view, including videos of interviews with contemporary artists such as Jamie Wyeth and Jason Middlebrook. Additionally, visitors accessing mfa.org can learn more about objects in the ancient Greek galleries through recordings of actors reading from ancient texts, while others can watch the Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer (original model 1878–81, cast after 1921) by Edgar Degas as she moved through the Museum to her home in the newly renovated Impressionist Gallery. Signage will also encourage visitors to follow the Museum’s social media channels and share their experiences by using #MFABoston and exhibition-specific hashtags such as #ShiniqueSmith, or rent an MFA Guide for additional content.

Board Appointments 

New officers and members of the Museum’s Board of Trustees, Board of Overseers, School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) Board of Trustees and SMFA Board of Governors were elected. Lisbeth Tarlow was named the new Chair of the Museum’s Board of Trustees. Tarlow succeeds Grace Fey, who will remain on the MFA’s Board as Honorary Trustee. Sandra Moose continues in her role as President for another year, while David Croll was voted President-Elect, succeeding Moose. Jill Avery was elected Chair of the Board of Overseers, succeeding Susan Donahue, who continues in her role as Trustee. Robert Nagle remains Chair of both the SMFA’s Board of Trustees and Governors. Also during the annual meeting, new members of the Board of Trustees were welcomed: Edward Baker-Greene, Howard Cox, Abigail Ross Goodman, Amy Poorvu and Roberta Weiner. New members of the Board of Overseers were also elected: Paul Alexander, Monica Chandra, Darwin Cordoba, Sunitha Das, Laura Debonis, Jennifer Herman, Lila Hunnewell, Ken Johnson, Tarun Khanna, Patricia Kraft, Jeffrey Leiden, Henry McGee, Jay Panetta, Pixie Robinson, Marie Rolf, Jeannie Suk, William Thorndike, Rouzbeh Yassini and Alice Yelen. Finally, the SMFA welcomed the following new SMFA Trustees: Abigail Ross Goodman and Lisbeth Tarlow; and the following new SMFA Governors: Pedro Alonzo, Karen Bressler, Margaret Burnham, Catherine Creighton and Norma Lopez.

Renovation of the Benin Kingdom Gallery was made possible with support from the Robert Lehman Foundation and the Vance Wall    Foundation.

Renovation of the Kunstkammer Gallery was supported in part by Achim Neuse and Volker Wurster.

Renovation of  the Sidney and Esther Rabb Gallery of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism in France was made possible with support from the Vance Wall Foundation.

About the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), is recognized for the quality and scope of its collection, which includes an estimated 500,000 objects. The Museum has more than 140 galleries displaying its encyclopedic collection, which includes Art of the Americas; Art of Europe; Contemporary Art; Art of Asia, Oceania, and Africa; Art of the Ancient World; Prints, Drawings, and Photographs; Textile and Fashion Arts; and Musical Instruments. Open seven days a week, the MFA’s hours are Saturday through Tuesday, 10 am–4:45 pm; and Wednesday through Friday, 10 am–9:45 pm Admission (which includes one repeat visit within 10 days) is $25 for adults and $23 for seniors and students age 18 and older, and includes entry to all galleries and special exhibitions. Admission is free for University Members and youths age 17 and younger on weekdays after 3 pm, weekends, and Boston Public Schools holidays; otherwise $10. Wednesday nights after 4 pm admission is by voluntary contribution (suggested donation $25). MFA Members are always admitted for free. The Museum’s mobile MFA Guide is available at ticket desks and the Sharf Visitor Center for $5, members; $6, non-members; and $4, youths. The Museum is closed on New Year’s Day, Patriots’ Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. For more information, visit mfa.org or call 617.267.9300. The MFA is located on the Avenue of the Arts at 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115.

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