Museums live in a moment. And they live in a community. We bring collections and the programs around them alive through points of view and timeliness, and we do so in our moment. We are the custodians of great art, and great art needs great and unrelenting advocacy. The past year has been one of strength and passionate advocacy, as well as of changes and new initiatives.
The Museum originated groundbreaking exhibitions this year. “Class Distinctions: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer,” assembled great masterpieces to tell an absorbing and relevant story about the social classes in the 17th century. “Made in the Americas: The New World Discovers Asia,” was a truly Pan-American exhibition showing the influence of Asia on the decorative arts and indigenous makers of the colonial Americas. “Megacities Asia,” celebrated the chaos and energy of the urban environment, bringing contemporary sculpture out into the Museum’s galleries and public spaces, expanding into the city itself. Working from these same themes of bold invitation and deep engagement, curators reexamined the collection for new narratives, creating an entire gallery dedicated to the Museum’s works by Claude Monet and undertaking a significant reimagining of 20th-century American Modernism at the MFA.
We collaborated with artists and students to create programming that reminds us of the power of art and the importance of museums. From our decade-long partnership with community afterschool programs through the Community Arts Initiative, to a new exhibition conceived and executed by our Teen Arts Council, in partnership with the Boston Public Schools, to seek out artwork from their peers, inquiring and thoughtful observers who found a public forum in “HOMiE: In Our Eyes,” (shown as this report’s main image), we hope to touch their lives through art.
In a watershed moment, June marked the effective merger of the 140-year-old School of the Museum of Fine Arts with Tufts University, a great teaching institution with the capacity to advance and promote the SMFA’s unique history and strengths. With such a partner, SMFA faculty, alumni, and students preserve continuity and the integrity of the School’s great undergraduate and graduate programs, and the MFA can sustain a plan to launch new programs and build further learning opportunities in fine arts education for artists and students in our community.
It has been a year of variety and consequence, and, drawing on the discoveries we have made together, we go forward to realize our vision of, and values for, the MFA—putting art at the center of the conversation, welcoming our dedicated audiences and reaching out to new ones, tapping into the enormous energy and imagination of the community of which we are a part. The spirit and commitment of MFA staff and board—and of visitors, advocates, and supporters—will undoubtedly bring us closer to these goals in the next year and those to come.