Visit the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to celebrate the Persian New Year and welcome the first signs of spring with an array of activities. Learn about Nowruz traditions, explore Persian works of art, and view a customary Haft Seen display. Enjoy music, dance, art, and more throughout the day. 

Nowruz is an ancient celebration that takes place on the vernal equinox signaling the beginning of spring; it is an annual MFA event. Nowruz means “new day,” and festivals have taken place for centuries throughout  Persia and now around the world. 

All events are free with Museum admission.


Special Events

Haft Seen Display
10 am–4 pm | Education Center in Druker Family Pavilion, Room 159

Visit and view a Haft Seen, a key element to any Nowruz celebration. This traditional holiday table includes seven symbolic items, all starting with the Persian letter sīn, or s and each representing of spring and renewal. Take photos with family and friends, find all seven S’s, and observe the New Year festival.

Designed and organized by Farzaneh Fallah-Sohy and Mostafa Masomi.

Story Hour
10:30–11:30 am and 1:30–2:30 pm | Gallery 176

Drop in to enjoy family-friendly stories read aloud about Nowruz celebrations, including stories from Ferdowsi’s epic poem, Shahnameh, the Persian Book of Kings.

Calligraphy Demonstration
Noon–3 pm | Shapiro Family Courtyard

Join Iranian-born architect and designer Davood Shahin as he demonstrates contemporary calligraphy rooted in Persian tradition. Stop by to watch how Davood’s sense of form and space as an architect are reflected in his work and learn more about this ancient fine art.

Kamancheh Demonstration
Noon–1 and 2:30–3:30 pm | Gallery 168

Farzin Dehghan, emerging kamancheh player, demonstrates the kamancheh—an upright Iranian bowed stringed instrument.

Music and Dance

Shooka Afshar and Sheez Ensemble
12:30–1 and 2:30–3 pm | Shapiro Family Courtyard

Enjoy a performance by Shooka Afshar and her ensemble as they bring the spirit of Iranian folk tunes to life. For part of the performance Aftab Dance Group joins the ensemble for a dance-music collaboration. Musicians include Shooka Afshar, soprano;  Keyhan Kamelian, piano; Nigel Yancey, flute; and James Heazlewood Dale, bass.

Hamid Saeidi and Badeh Va Taraneh Assistive Listening System
1–2 and 3:30–4:30 pm | Remis Auditorium

Internationally acclaimed performer, producer, and award-winning composer Hamid Saeidi, along with his ensemble Badeh Va Taraneh, plays a set of traditional and folkloric Iranian songs. Hamid, who holds a degree in music from the Iranian Academy of the Arts, and Badeh Va Taraneh, an eclectic group of musicians and performers, are dedicated to bringing traditional and contemporary Persian poetry and music to broader audiences. Their distinctive approach to live performance encourages a direct experience through music’s transformative power.

Free performance ticket required. Limited availability: first come, first served. Performance tickets available at Remis Auditorium Box Office starting one hour before show times.

Aftab Dance Group
1:30–1:45 and 3:30–3:45 pm | Shapiro Family Courtyard

Experience the beauty of Iran’s diverse cultures through Persian classical and modern dance performed to a medley of traditional Persian songs by the Aftab Dance Group, a collaboration of students from local universities.

Tours and Talks

Spotlight Talks
10:30, 11, and 11:30 am | Gallery 175

Enjoy a 15-minute talk with Laura Weinstein, Ananda Coomaraswamy Curator of South Asian and Islamic Art, and artist Artemis Akchoti, highlighting a Persian work of art.

Gallery Tour: Ancient Persia Assistive Listening System
11:30 am–12:15 pm | Meet at Sharf Visitor Center

Go on a 45-minute tour in the galleries with Lawrence Berman, Norma Jean Calderwood Senior Curator of Ancient Egyptian, Nubian, and Near Eastern Art, to hear about ancient Persian art at the MFA.

Talk: Persian Objects You’ve Never Seen Assistive Listening System
2–3 pm | Alfond Auditorium

Join Lawrence Berman, Norma Jean Calderwood Senior Curator of Ancient Egyptian, Nubian, and Near Eastern Art; and Laura Weinstein, Ananda Coomaraswamy Curator of South Asian and Islamic Art, for a behind-the-scenes look at a selection of Persian works of art taken out of storage for this occasion.

Free talk ticket required. Limited availability: first come, first served. Performance tickets available at Alfond Auditorium Ticket Desk starting 30 minutes before show time.

Art-Making Activities

Miniature Haft Seen
10 am–4 pm | Education Center in Druker Family Pavilion, Room 160

Be inspired by a traditional Haft Seen table filled with seven symbolic items in Druker Family Pavilion, Room 159. Then, make your own miniature three-dimensional Haft Seen collage to bring home.

Persian Painting Blind or Low Vision
10 am–4 pm | Shapiro Family Courtyard

Look closely at the details in the Persian miniature paintings in Gallery 175 to learn about the clothing and customs of the 13th century. Return to the courtyard to paint your own masterpiece!

Family Art Cart Blind or Low Vision
10 am–4 pm | Shapiro Family Courtyard

Choose from activities designed to guide you through the galleries with fun facts, scavenger hunts, games, and more. Art Cards are available with tactile graphics, large print, and Braille.

Available every Saturday and Sunday through June in the Shapiro Family Courtyard from 10 am to 4 pm.

Additional Resources

MFA Guide Audio descriptionSign Language InterpretationAssistive Listening SystemMFA Guide CC
Available at all ticket desks and Sharf Visitor Center
Rent a mobile MFA Guide to explore the Museum’s collections. A selection of highlights is narrated in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and ASL. Many stops are accessible to visitors who are Deaf or blind. And there’s a tour designed just for kids!
Members $5; nonmembers $6; kids 17 and under $4. Free for visitors who are Deaf or blind.

Audio description    Audio description
Sign Language Interpretation    ASL interpretation
Blind or Low Vision    Blind or low vision access
Assistive Listening System    Assistive listening device
Wheelchair Accessibility    All programs are wheelchair accessible.

More to See and Do

Artist Toolbox Cart: Silver
Today, 11 am–4 pm | Gallery 242
Handle the tools used by silversmiths and gain an understanding of the techniques used to make silver works throughout the Museum.

April Vacation Week: Collaborate and Create!
April 18–21 | 10 am–4 pm (Wed to 8 pm)
Enjoy free drop-in family-friendly activities for kids to enjoy while on school break, supported by the Cogan Family Foundation. Free with Museum admission.

Guided Gallery Tours
Daily
Available monthly in French, American Sign Language, and Spanish.
Free with Museum admission.

Every Wednesday
Free admission for all starting at 4 pm (voluntary contributions welcome)
Spend time in the galleries and enjoy a variety of free drop-in programs starting at 6 pm.


Sponsors

Presented with support from Azi Djazani, Mahmood Malihi, and Azita Bina and Elmar Seibel.