Happy Nowruz 1397 / 2018

Nowruz takes place on the vernal equinox and signals the beginning of spring. Meaning “new day,” the ancient festival of Nowruz has been celebrated for centuries in Persia and now around the world. Celebrate the Persian New Year and the first signs of spring at the MFA. Learn about Nowruz traditions, explore Persian works of art, and view a Haft Seen display. Enjoy music, dance, art, and more!

All events are free with Museum admission.

Special Events

Haft Seen Display

10 am–5 pm, Shapiro Family Courtyard

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

Designed and organized by Farzaneh Fallah, Mostafa Masomi, and Mojgan Olia.

Stories from the Shahnameh

10:30–11 am and 1:30–2 pm, Gallery 177

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

Calligraphy Demonstration and Workshop

1–4 pm, Gallery 268

Join Iranian-born architect and designer Davood Shahin as he demonstrates contemporary calligraphy rooted in the art of Persian culture. Stop by to watch how Davood’s sense of form and space as an architect is reflected in his work, and learn how he is taking this ancient art to the next level.

Music and Dance

Sepideh Raissadat

1–2 and 3–4 pm, Remis Auditorium

For the occasion of Nowruz, Germany-based Persian classical vocalist and musician Sepideh Raissadat performs with musicians Bahareh Moghtadaei, tombak; Shahin Fayaz, tar; Amin Reyhani, santur; and Kousha Nakhaei, kamancheh. Together they perform new and old melodies celebrating the start of spring and the Persian New Year.

Free performance ticket required.
Limited availability: first come, first served. Performance tickets available at Remis Auditorium Box Office starting 60 minutes before show times.

Assistive Listening System

Childhood, Shooka Afshar’s Sarzameen Ensemble

12:15 and 2:15 pm, Shapiro Family Courtyard

Shooka Afshar’s new project, Childhood, transports audiences through the diverse, beautiful lands of Iran. The interdisciplinary performance features the Sarzameen Ensemble, accompanied by painters Bahareh and Farzenah Safarani portraying the scenes described by Shooka’s lyrics. The ensemble also performs a set of Persian folk songs. Performances are 35–45 minutes.

Kamancheh Demonstration

Noon–1 and 2:30–3:30 pm, Gallery 250

Join Farzin Dehghan, an emerging kamancheh virtuoso, as he performs an array of Persian songs demonstrating this upright Iranian bowed stringed instrument. Accompanied by Gilbert Mansour, Dehghan concludes each performance with a Q-and-A session for visitors to learn even more about this classic instrument.

Aftab Dance Group

11:30 am–Noon, Alfond Auditorium
4–4:30 pm, Shapiro Family Courtyard

Experience the varied cultures of Iran through Persian classical and modern dance performed by the Boston-based Aftab Dance Group. Aftab is a collaboration of students from many local and Boston-area universities.

Free performance ticket required for Alfond Auditorium.
Limited availability: first come, first served. Tickets available at Alfond Auditorium ticket desk starting 30 minutes before show time.

Tours and Talks

American Sign Language Tour

10:30 am, Meet at Sharf Visitor Center

Learn about the MFA’s collection of Ancient Near Eastern and Persian art. Tour is 45 minutes and led by trained guides.

ASL only; no spoken English

Spotlight Talks

10:30, 11, and 11:30 am, Gallery 175

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

Gallery Tour: Ancient Persia

11:15 am–Noon, Meet at Sharf Visitor Center

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

Assistive Listening System

Talk: Persian Works You’ve Never Seen

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 ticket required.
Limited availability: first come, first served. Tickets available at Alfond Auditorium ticket desk starting 30 minutes before show time.

Assistive Listening System

Family Art-Making Activities

Miniature Haft Seen

10 am–4 pm, Education Center in Druker Family Pavilion, Room 159

Be inspired in the Shapiro Family Courtyard by a traditional Haft Seen display filled with seven symbolic items. Then make your own miniature three-dimensional Haft Seen collage to bring home.

Blind or Low Vision Access

Karkadann Creatures

10 am–4 pm, Gallery 168

Look closely at the center of the bowl in Gallery 175 from 13th-century Iran. Can you see the karkadann? This mythical Persian creature with a single horn on its head is like a unicorn. Walk over to Gallery 168 to draw your own Persian karkadann.

Family Art Cart

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.

Blind or Low Vision Access

Family- and Kid-Friendly Self-Guiding Materials

Sharf Visitor Center

Pick up an Art Connections activity card in English or Spanish, get a My MFA Sketchbook to draw in the galleries, or find the helpful Guide to Family Fun at the MFA.

Additional Resources

Artist Toolbox Cart: Painting

11 am–4 pm, Gallery 128

Handle the tools of painters and view detailed demonstration pieces to gain an understanding of the history and evolution of painting.

MFA Guide

Available at all ticket desks, Sharf Visitor Center, and the Gund Gallery, LG31

Rent a mobile MFA Guide to explore the Museum’s encyclopedic collection.

Nonmembers $6; Members $5; kids 17 and under $4. Free for visitors who are Deaf or blind.

Audio Description
ASL Interpreted
Assistive Listening System
Closed Captioning

MFA Citizens

Are you or is someone you know a new US citizen? Learn more at any ticket or Member desk.

New US citizens living in Massachusetts can receive a free one-year membership to the MFA. Just come to the Museum, show a copy or photo of your naturalization certificate at any ticket desk within one year of your swearing-in, and you will get a free Museum membership for one year.

Mark Your Calendar

April Vacation Week: Myths and Magic!

April 17–20, 10 am–4 pm (Wed to 8 pm)

Enjoy free, drop-in, family-friendly programs for kids to enjoy while on school break, supported by the Cogan Family Foundation. 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.


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