We live in times in which there is a shift in the way we see the past, the way we see the connectedness of things, the way we imagine a future.
How do we see the past?
How do we connect things?
How do we imagine a future?
We take risks, we ask questions, we listen.
As a vital cultural institution in our city, we commit to asking these questions and to serving our community through the lens of art. We commit to being a place of convening and to encouraging our visitors to be part of the dialogue with us.
A major milestone of the past year was a moment about our future—in June 2017, the Board of Trustees approved our new Strategic Plan, MFA 2020. The culmination of an integrated effort among staff, volunteers, and governance, the plan is a clear articulation of priorities, vision, and purpose.
2020 will mark the 150th Anniversary of our founding, an important guidepost on our journey. This Strategic Plan will deliver us to that moment with ambition and clarity, and will establish a solid platform for future growth well beyond that date. Our roadmap charts a path forward to becoming an institution of the moment and of the community with these five imperatives:
Collect Purposefully, Collaborate Generously, Invite Boldly, Welcome Warmly, and Engage Deeply.
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.
We began in the fall of 2016 with #mfaNOW, a series of four free all-night events, inviting nearly 23,000 visitors, many new to the MFA, to experience the Museum, our art, and our programming. Activating the MFA’s spaces through the voices of artists and by encouraging visitors to take part in fresh, surprising ways, #mfaNOW showed us what is possible when we take risks and implement our skill and vision in new directions.
The year also featured exhibitions that point the way toward the future while giving us fresh looks at the past: “William Merritt Chase” celebrated an American teacher and painter who bridged the 19th and 20th centuries; “Matisse in the Studio” thoughtfully investigated the deep roots of the great artist’s visual lexicon in many cultures and media; fruitful international collaborations gave us the opportunity to display astounding Renaissance treasures with “Della Robbia: Sculpting with Color in Renaissance Florence,” followed by “Botticelli and the Search for the Divine,” the most extensive display of his work seen in the US. And “Memory Unearthed: The Photographs of Henryk Ross,” a powerful exhibition of photographs of the Holocaust, was a stark reminder of the precariousness of daily existence and how images and their stories bear witness, represent history, preserve memory.
We have looked to our own rich resources to create relevant narratives, to combine objects and ideas. We have sought to collect purposefully, to both enhance our collection representing the most important art of the past, and to commit to the art of today—embracing the present and boldly anticipating the future. Some of my thoughts on this subject can be found in the video here, and the year’s acquisitions highlights speak eloquently in their range and depth. We have benefited from transformative gifts and focused on acquiring works of excellence, building on our strengths, providing the foundation for bold new exhibitions and installations—for new stories to be told. We are grateful to our generous donors and supporters for helping the MFA and its collections grow with vision and purpose.
With the Strategic Plan in place for the road ahead, with the knowledge gained by embarking in new directions, and the enthusiastic encouragement from our visitors and the community, we are well prepared for the challenges to come.