March 11–April 22, 2015

Inside the Box

Massachusetts State House Time Capsule Revealed

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the contents of the Massachusetts State House time capsule before it is reburied.

On January 6, 2015, former Governor Deval Patrick; Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin; Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director; and media around the world looked on as the MFA and Commonwealth of Massachusetts opened a time capsule. Originally placed under the Massachusetts State House cornerstone in 1795 by Governor Samuel Adams, patriot Paul Revere, and Colonel William Scollay, it had been previously unearthed in 1855, when its contents were documented and cleaned, and additional objects were added.

The time capsule was found to contain coins, newspapers, a medal depicting George Washington, and a silver plaque believed to be engraved by Paul Revere. In this exhibition, the contents are displayed in front of the monumental Thomas Sully painting, The Passage of the Delaware (1819). The installation will explore the significance of the objects found in the capsule and the role of the prominent figures involved in both the original burial in 1795, and reburial in 1855. Surrounded by related works of art on view throughout the Wing, visitors can also see portraits of Samuel Adams and Paul Revere by John Singleton Copley, coins identical to those in the time capsule, and other historical objects in nearby galleries.

  • Kristin and Roger Servison Gallery (Gallery 133)