Dear MFA Community,
A few months ago, we made a promise to you to amplify our efforts toward becoming a more inclusive and welcoming institution, one that truly belongs to all of Boston—and for you to hold us accountable. Today, I share with you two key updates on this ongoing work. After discussions with teachers and other partners that began in the spring, we have created improved systems for school group visits—one of the steps we’re taking as we strive to ensure that young people feel safe and celebrated at the MFA. Additionally, after examining our internal structure, we have established a new Senior Director of Inclusion position. More details on both initiatives are available here, where I invite you to continue sharing your questions, concerns, and comments.
Inclusion and community will continue to be at the forefront of our thinking as we prepare to celebrate the MFA’s 150th anniversary in 2020—a moment to honor our past and reimagine our future. The Museum was founded on February 4, 1870, by civic leaders with great faith in Boston, its people, and its promise. In our anniversary year, we will continue to follow our founders’ lead, set in motion 150 years ago, and incorporate all we have learned since. As we look ahead, we must address the evolving role of museums in today’s complex world. We will enhance the power of art and artists through our work, with a renewed focus on the community in which we live.
Like every great celebration, ours will start with an invitation. In 2020, we will extend the offer of a free first-year membership to all attendees of our annual community celebrations and MFA Late Nites—popular and innovative programs that have opened our doors to new audiences over the years. Membership creates lasting connections and a sense of belonging—a feeling that the MFA is a place to feel at home, to come back to, to share with friends and family. We are excited to extend this invitation to all Bostonians who attend our community celebrations.
I am also pleased to share that the exhibition program presented this fall and continuing into the anniversary year will honor a diverse range of artists and highlight untold stories. I invite you to visit “Women Take the Floor,” now on view in our Art of the Americas Wing, and come back in October to see “Ancient Nubia Now” and “Weng Family Collection of Chinese Painting: Family and Friends.” In 2020, I look forward to sharing with you a number of exhibitions that engage the expertise and viewpoints of our Boston community, beginning in January with an exhibition highlighting 20th-century art by artists of color from the Americas, curated by teen scholars from local organizations and the MFA’s own Teen Arts Council and STEAM Team. Next spring, we will celebrate the vitality and energy of 1980s post-graffiti art of New York City with a major exhibition of the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat and his peers—messages that speak eloquently to us today—accompanied by a community mural project led by local artists Rob “Problak” Gibbs and Rob Stull.
An outline of our 150th anniversary initiatives is available here. In the coming months, we will continue to share details about our plans for 2020 and beyond. The Museum is both the place that our original founders envisioned and so much more than what they could have ever imagined—with even more to come as we work together to create an MFA ready for the future.
This is your invitation to join us along the way.
Ann and Graham Gund Director
The MFA's 150th Anniversary Celebration is sponsored by Bank of America.