Bringing objects to life through storytelling

Collector. Businessman. Historian. Author. Philanthropist. Fred Sharf (1934–2017) was a Renaissance man. With diverse interests, an insatiable curiosity, and a lifelong passion for history and art, Sharf was an exceptional friend, advisor, and donor to the MFA, where he strove to make objects come alive through storytelling.

Sharf’s interests ranged from industrial design to Hollywood, from Japanese woodblock prints to American folk art. As an Honorary Trustee and Millennial Benefactor, together with his wife Jean, Sharf donated thousands of works to the Museum. In 2011, they endowed the position of Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Curator of Design, paving the way for innovative expansion of the collection. Through visionary support for publications and exhibitions, the Sharfs have been instrumental in shaping the MFAʼs collections of design drawings and jewelry, making the MFA an international leader in these fields.

The exhibition honors Fred’s extraordinary generosity and vision. On view are examples of design drawings and illustration, fashion and jewelry, models, and prints from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection, as well as gifts he inspired others to make. These eye-catching works provide a glimpse of his multi-faceted collecting and were selected to showcase its exceptional range, and to inspire and energize.