Visitor-Centered Strategic Plan to Invite Boldly, Welcome Warmly and Engage Deeply

BOSTON (June 6, 2017)—A spirit of collaboration and engagement is at the core of MFA 2020, a Strategic Plan that articulates a shared voice and vision for the next three years at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA). At the heart of the plan is an ambitious commitment to activating new audiences around the Museum’s collection, and bringing diverse perspectives together to reflect on art as a platform to address the times in which we live.

“I’m pleased to share a Strategic Plan that embraces our mission of bringing art and people together with a new sense of urgency,” said Matthew Teitelbaum, Ann and Graham Gund Director. “We believe in the power of art and commit to fully realizing our role as a meeting place of world cultures and a destination for convening, reflection and ideas. We will celebrate artists across time, honor all visitors and invite many voices to participate. MFA 2020 envisions a future with art in which we are known for our spirit of collaboration and ability to welcome and deeply engage a wide variety of audiences in the life of the Museum.”

MFA 2020 will be realized through five pillars that reflect a mindful shift from where the MFA is today and lay out how it will respond to new ideas, link cultures and cultivate a range of voices to encourage change. These imperatives are: Collaborate Generously, Invite Boldly, Welcome Warmly, Engage Deeply and Collect Purposefully. By expanding partnerships and evolving as a center for convening, the Museum has created a roadmap that charts a path forward—becoming an institution that is of the moment and of the community.

“The Strategic Plan both addresses the MFA’s current needs and positions the institution for success well into the future,” said Kevin Callaghan, Co-Chair of the Trustee Task Force for Strategic Planning and incoming Chairman of the Board of Trustees. “The foundation of MFA 2020 is an aligned organizational structure and culture, coupled with human and financial resources to achieve our goals in a responsible and sustainable way.”

MFA 2020 lays out a shared set of values, including the mission to Collaborate Generously with partners and colleagues in Boston and around the world. By 2020, a new state-of-the-art Conservation Center will provide an environment that will expand upon the MFA’s history of excellence in research and treatment of works of art. This new space will bring together teams of conservators and curators—both internally and with colleagues and experts from other institutions—actively encouraging thoughtful discussion, creating bridges between disciplines and stimulating new approaches to research. Ultimately, with the plan guiding the process, new collaborations fostered by the Center will enhance the Museum’s galleries and enable an ambitious schedule of exhibitions and programs.

Essential to the MFA’s Strategic Plan is the charge to Invite Boldly. MFA 2020 imagines the creation of a new invitation to visitors of all ages and backgrounds. The importance of the Museum as a civic gathering space—a place of ideas, multiple narratives and the intersection of cultures—is more critical than ever. Strengthening the MFA’s position as a vital cultural resource that belongs and exists in service to the public, the new program “MFA Citizens” will offer complimentary family memberships to every newly naturalized U.S. citizen living in Massachusetts. The program will invite new citizens to gather, make connections within their community and create bridges across cultures—making the Museum part of their American experience. Welcoming these new citizens will also add fresh perspectives, personal narratives and expanded voices to the Museum’s programs, presenting an outward-facing MFA that is inclusive, relevant and inspiring.

To Welcome Warmly, the MFA will strive to make every visitor feel a sense of belonging. The Strategic Plan seeks to create an experience that begins outside the Museum’s walls and continues as visitors enter the building and explore the galleries. Programming and activities will encourage alternative means of engaging with—and being inspired by—the MFA and its collection. This new welcome will be apparent when friends and families gather on the Museum’s lawn to make art, listen to music and watch an outdoor film as part of the new program “Sunset Cinema.” The MFA, and its place within the community, present a powerful platform to change the way people perceive museums.

Through the plan, the Museum commits to programs that encourage the public to Engage Deeply with art and ideas. This goal embraces the participation of the next generation of museum-goers who will shape dialogues around important issues of our time, with the Museum’s global collection as a backdrop. In a new exhibition this fall, works by Takashi Murakami (born 1962) will be juxtaposed with masterworks from the MFA’s distinguished collection of Japanese art. The exhibition will reveal how the artist’s contemporary vision is richly inflected by a dynamic conversation with the historical past, framed by a creative dialogue with the great Japanese art historian, Professor Tsuji Nobuo. Together, Murakami and Professor Tsuji have chosen the objects that will be on view, including a number of works created by the artist in direct response to masterpieces from the MFA’s collection, such as Soga Shōhaku’s dramatic Dragon and Clouds (1763) and the Heiji Scroll—one of the most famous Japanese works of art outside of Japan.

In the galleries, the Museum’s renewed commitment to Collect Purposefully will be revealed through installations that create compelling narratives and tell thoughtful stories. This strategy will place increased emphasis on acquiring objects that both complement the Museum’s historic collection and have the ability to transform the gallery experience, just as the Frida Kahlo portrait (acquired in 2016) has opened the door to innovative displays on Mexican modernism and social justice; or the monumental Benjamin West painting has anchored a gallery exploring the history of border-crossing journeys that foster artistic collaboration and exchange. But galleries are only part of the story. The MFA’s collections are a nearly inexhaustible repository of knowledge and narrative, and the compelling stories that can be told in the galleries are built on rich holdings of, for example, works on paper and textiles that are not—or cannot—always be on view. Collecting purposefully also means building those holdings, acquiring works of quality and power that fill out themes and create rich and multifaceted collections that can feed scholarship and emerge into galleries to delight visitors with displays that challenge expectations and prompt new ideas.

These foundational values will lead the MFA into the future and secure a greater role of relevance in the city. MFA 2020 expresses the Museum’s commitment to local, national and international visitors, members and supporters—while also broadening the Museum’s reach. Effort will be placed on developing programs that attract new and diverse audiences who represent Boston’s changing demographics and innovative culture—specifically, students (K-12, undergraduate and graduate); multigenerational families; and creative professionals.

“The MFA currently welcomes more than one million visitors annually. Our focus for the future begins with continued dedication to our current audiences while also looking to foster new connections and extend our reach in the community, establishing the Museum as a welcoming and inclusive place for all,” said Jill Avery, Co-Chair of the Trustee Task Force for Strategic Planning. “It is exciting to have the opportunity to change the way a young adult or a family of three generations experiences the MFA.”

While building upon on the success of many established Museum programs, MFA 2020 incorporates more than 50 new initiatives. The Strategic Plan launches on July 1, 2017, and will roll out over the next three years, culminating with the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the MFA’s founding in 2020.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), is recognized for the quality and scope of its collection, representing all cultures and time periods. 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; Art of Africa and Oceania; Art of the Ancient World; Prints and Drawings; Photography; Textile and Fashion Arts; and Musical Instruments. Open seven days a week, the MFA’s hours are Saturday through Tuesday, 10 am–5 pm; and Wednesday through Friday, 10 am–10 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. Wednesday nights after 4 pm admission is by voluntary contribution (suggested donation $25), while five Open Houses offer the opportunity to visit the Museum 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. The MFA is located on the Avenue of the Arts at 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. For more information, call 617.267.9300, visit mfa.org or follow the MFA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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