Every Bit Helps

Why Not Bring the Kids?

Art is not just for adults! Through various programs, the MFA works to bring art into the lives of others. The Museum offers several different ways for kids of all ages to enjoy and experience works of art in interesting, different, and interactive ways.

Through our Artful Adventures program, children ages preschool through high school may choose from nine different adventures, each aimed at helping children appreciate art not just through looking, but from experiencing it first hand. Each exploration is a great way for children to enjoy the Museum in their own way. Themes include Women in Art, The Art and Mysteries of Ancient Egypt, Fantastic Creatures, and many more. See a complete listing.

To learn more about this program or to schedule a visit please call 617-369-3303, (TTY) 617-267-9703, e-mail artfuladventures@mfa.org, or visit Artful Adventures.

More about Artful Adventures

Conserving Art and Energy

Conservation--from restoring old works to ensuring that new art stays vibrant--is a large and important part of the Museum. So it will come as no surprise to learn the Museum is just as serious about conserving energy as it is about art.

Says Alton Davis, Electrical Supervisor at the MFA, "We have been implementing energy-saving lighting systems with lower wattage lamps and ballasts. We've also installed a new chiller for building cooling and larger motors with variable speed drives. This helps us reduce our electric demand for our buildings."

Additionally, employees at the Museum are each helping to reduce energy consumption. Simply turning off lights, computers, printers, and copiers around your home or office can reduce your own energy use.

The MFA, Right from Your Living Room!

Can't get in to see that new exhibition? Missed one that still interests you? Whether you're looking up a specific painting or exploring the new Gund Gallery exhibition, www.mfa.org brings the Museum right to your fingertips. Through podcasts, videos, virtual tours, and fun and free extras like e-cards, www.mfa.org is a great way to experience what the Museum has to offer in the comfort of your own home. Take a look around--we're open 24/7.

MFA Fund Spotlight

The Asian Conservation Studio is a unique part of the Museum. The 100-year-old department is not only the oldest of its kind outside of Japan, but it is also one of only three like it in this country.

In its charge are tens of thousands of different objects, including scrolls, screens, panels, miniatures, albums, manuscripts, and postcards, which are constantly on rotation for our visitors to enjoy. From Department Head Jacki Elgar's scientific background to Higashiyama Kaii Conservator Phillip Meredith's eleven-year "apprenticeship" in Japan to learn special mounting techniques, it becomes clear why this studio is not only important, but also why it is so interesting.

In the studio, low wooden work tables lay on a flooring made with traditional tatami mats. This setup allows the conservators to work in a traditional Japanese manner that includes removing shoes and sitting on the tatami. Whether completely remounting a painting into a traditional format or conducting a remedial treatment to prepare a work to go on view, the studio is always abuzz with action.

Across from the mats are hanging brushes. Different brushes are used for different jobs. Conservators use certain brushes to adhere the paper of a work to either a permanent backing or a temporary facing, which protects the front of the work while the back undergoes treatment. There are water brushes, paste brushes, and smoothing and joining brushes. These brushes are still made in Japan. Their bristles are made from either animal hair such as deer, goat, and horse, or from the plant fiber hemp. These brushes are essential to the studio's work and can cost over $500 apiece; they need to be replaced about every five to ten years.

Many different kinds of silks are used in traditional Japanese painting formats, especially in hanging scrolls. The studio therefore stocks rolls of silk. When replacing silks on a painting, Phillip and Jacki sometimes use gold brocade silk that has hand-woven gold motifs. Because it can take a day to weave just three feet of this silk, it can cost up to $5,000 per bolt. The mountings on many of the hanging scrolls only last an average of 100 years due to the organic materials used. Additionally, the final stages of remounting a scroll painting involve stretching it on a drying board for three to six months (the longer, the better). Because of these necessary steps, remounting Japanese paintings is expensive and time-consuming.

When the scrolls are not on view, they are stored in special wooden boxes made from paulownia. For some scrolls, a futomaki (fat roll) is clamped around the bottom dowel and the painting is rolled up upon it. A futomaki increases the diameter of the bottom rod to help preserve the painted image or the structure of the scroll. Futomaki are also made from paulownia wood that has been seasoned for over ten years. They are special-ordered from box-makers in Japan who have been designated as "living national treasures" by the Japanese government. Futomaki can cost anywhere from $300 to $3,000 each.

The next time you look at a hanging scroll at the Museum or in our online collection search, imagine the time and expense that go into preserving each piece. The dedication of people like Jacki and Phillip and funds, like those from the MFA Fund, are vital to keep this studio running for another 100 years.

More about the Asian Conservation Studio