Upcoming Exhibitions and New Galleries


Exhibition Lab: Sargent and Fashion November 10, 2018–June 23, 2019
Boston Made: Arts and Crafts Jewelry and Metalwork November 17, 2018–March 29, 2020
Jack Bush: Radiant Abstraction November 17, 2018–April 21, 2019
Ansel Adams in Our Time December 13, 2018–February 24, 2019
Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico  January 19, 2019–May 12, 2019
Gender Bending Fashion March 21, 2019–August 25, 2019
Toulouse-Lautrec and the Stars of Paris April 7, 2019–August 4, 2019

Current Exhibitions


Claes Oldenburg: Shelf Life through December 2, 2018
Lorraine O’Grady: Family Gained through December 2, 2018
Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic through January 6, 2019
French Pastels: Treasures from the Vault through January 6, 2019
Cecilia Vicuña: Disappeared Quipu through January 21, 2019
The Art of Influence: Propaganda Postcards from the Era of World Wars through January 21, 2019
Candice Breitz: Love Story through January 21, 2019
Collecting Stories: Native American Art through March 10, 2019

* Bolded exhibitions are on view in the Museum’s Ann and Graham Gund Gallery.

Please contact Public Relations to verify titles and dates before publication: pr@mfa.org.

Upcoming Exhibitions and New Galleries

Exhibition Lab: Sargent and Fashion

Edward and Nancy Roberts Family Gallery
November 10, 2018–June 23, 2019

As MFA curators prepare to mount the major exhibition Sargent and Fashion in 2021–2022, the Museum is offering a behind-the-scenes look at the process of formulating such a project—and asking for the public’s opinions. The Exhibition Lab considers a variety of questions that must be addressed for the future exhibition, co-organized with Tate Britain, which will unite the finest portraits by John Singer Sargent (1856–1925) with representative clothes of the period. Using objects from the MFA’s collection, the Exhibition Lab offers visitors insight into curatorial decision-making about content, design and interpretation. The installation features the Museum’s Mrs. Charles E. Inches (Louise Pomeroy) (1887), displayed for the first time with the red velvet evening gown, later much altered, that she wore for her portrait. Other garments and paintings pose questions about the relationship between dress and representation. As they examine the works on view, visitors are invited to help consider options for display and in-gallery experiences by responding to questions and participating in pop-up focus groups. Supported by the Eugenie Prendergast Memorial Fund.

Boston Made: Arts and Crafts Jewelry and Metalwork

Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation Gallery
November 17, 2018–March 29, 2020

Boston boasted one of the most active and influential artistic jewelry-making and metalworking communities in the nation in the early 20th century. This is the first exhibition dedicated solely to the exemplary works of these craftspeople—many of them women—who all shared a belief in the ideals of the international Arts and Crafts movement. Both an artistic and a cultural movement, it developed in England in the late 19th century as a reaction to the dehumanizing effects of the Industrial Revolution, promoting individual artistry and craftsmanship as crucial elements for leading a joyful and fulfilling life. These progressive ideas found a ready audience in intellectual and artisanal circles in Boston at the turn of the century. Through nearly 100 works—including jewelry, tableware, decorative accessories, design drawings and archival materials—the exhibition explores the philosophy and artistry of the Arts and Crafts movement in Boston, as well as the stories of the objects’ makers and owners. In addition to emphasizing the opportunities offered to female artists such as Josephine Hartwell Shaw and Elizabeth Copeland at the time, the exhibition also highlights the contributions of jewelry maker Frank Gardner Hale and silversmith Arthur Stone, both luminaries in their respective fields. An accompanying illustrated catalogue will be released by MFA Publications in November 2018.

Jack Bush: Radiant Abstraction

Edward H. Linde Gallery
November 17, 2018–April 21, 2019

With lush, deep colors and a whimsical playfulness, Jack Bush (1909–1977) endeavored to capture what he called the “essence” and “feeling” of what he was experiencing or observing—such as a beautiful flower or a piece of music. This exhibition features three large-scale canvases—two of them recent gifts to the Museum—that span 10 years of Bush’s career, from 1964 to 1974, and display the range of his later style. A onetime member of Painters Eleven, an influential group of Canadian artists founded in 1954 that worked to promote abstract art, Bush had by the 1960s established himself as one of Canada’s leading contemporary artists. Inspired by modern master Henri Matisse and American Color Field painters like Helen Frankenthaler and Morris Louis, he intended for his luminous abstractions to evoke the emotional experience of pure, joyful beauty. Shown together, the three paintings on view illustrate the artist’s development over the last decade of his life, and with their abstracted forms and colors, express the joy that Bush sought to share with his viewers. Supported by the Trust Family Contemporary Exhibition Fund.

Ansel Adams in Our Time

Ann and Graham Gund Gallery
December 13, 2018–February 24, 2019

Captured with unrivaled sensitivity and rigorous exactitude, Ansel Adams’ black-and-white photographs of the American Western landscape constitute an iconic visual legacy. This exhibition presents some of his most renowned work, and connects Adams (1902–1984) to his 19th-century predecessors as well as more than 20 contemporary artists who are reckoning with the same subjects and themes today. While crafting his own modernist vision, Adams was inspired by forerunners in government survey and expedition photography such as Carleton Watkins (1829–1916), Eadweard Muybridge (1830–1904), Timothy O’Sullivan (1840-1882) and Frank Jay Haynes (1853–1921), in some cases replicating their exact views of the Yosemite Valley, Canyon de Chelly and Yellowstone to produce images that would become emblematic of the country’s national parks. Today, artists including Mark Klett (born 1962), Trevor Paglen (born 1974), Catherine Opie (born 1961), Abelardo Morell (born 1948), Victoria Sambunaris (born 1964) and Binh Danh (born 1977) are responding to Adams, drawn not only to the same locations, but also many of the themes central to his legacy: desert and wilderness spaces, Native Americans and the Southwest, and broader issues affecting the environment such as logging, mining, drought and fire, booms and busts, development and urban sprawl. The Adams photographs in the exhibition are part of the Lane Collection—one of the largest and most significant gifts in MFA history—while a number of the works by 19th-century photographers and contemporary artists are on loan from public institutions, galleries and private collections. Sponsored by Northern Trust. Additional support from the Robert and Jane Burke Fund for Exhibitions, and Peter and Catherine Creighton

Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico

Henry and Lois Foster Gallery
January 19–May 12, 2019

Graciela Iturbide (born 1942) is one of the most influential photographers active in Latin America today, whose work goes beyond documentary photography to express an intense personal and poetic lyricism about her native Mexico. Iturbide’s photographs capture everyday life and its cultures, rituals and religions, while also raising questions about Mexican society and inequality. They tell a visual story of Mexico since the late 1970s—a country in constant transition, defined by the coexistence of the historical and modern as a result of the culture’s rich syncretism. For Iturbide, photography is a way of life and a way of seeing and understanding Mexico and its beauty, rituals, challenges and contradictions. This is the first major East Coast presentation of Iturbide’s work, featuring approximately 125 photographs that span her five-decade-long career. Organized into nine sections, the exhibition opens with early photographs, followed by three series focused on three of Mexico’s many indigenous cultures. Photographed over the course of 10 years, Juchitán captures the essential role of women in Zapotec culture. Los que viven en la arena ( Those Who Live in the Sand) concentrates on the Seri people living in the Sonoran Desert, while La Mixteca documents elaborate goat-slaughtering rituals in Oaxaca, serving as critical commentary on the exploitation of workers. Thematic sections highlight Iturbide’s explorations of various aspects and symbols of Mexican culture, including fiestas, death and mortality, and birds and their symbolism. The two most recent series on view also relate to Mexico’s cultural and artistic heritage. They feature the Oaxaca Ethnobotanical Gardens, representing plants—mainly cacti—in intensive care, and El baño de Frida ( Frida’s Bathroom), depicting personal belongings in Frida Kahlo’s bathroom at the Casa Azul, which had been locked away for 50 years after the artist’s death. Drawn primarily from Iturbide’s own collection, the exhibition also includes loans from museums and private collections throughout the U.S. and Mexico, and is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue produced by MFA Publications.

Gender Bending Fashion

Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art (multiple galleries)
March 21–August 25, 2019

Over the past century, fashion has disrupted, blurred and redefined societal and cultural conventions and expectations around gender. Bringing together more than 60 examples of boundary-pushing designs, from couture to ready-to-wear, this exhibition examines the intersection of identity and its expression through dress. The work of contemporary designers who are upending traditional ideas about men’s and women’s clothing—such as Rad Hourani, Viktor & Rolf, Alessandro Michele, Palomo and Rei Kawakubo—is presented in context with historical trends, such as the garçonne look of the 1920s and the peacock revolution of the 1960s. Featuring pieces worn by actors, musicians and influencers including Marlene Dietrich, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Young Thug and Tilda Swinton, the exhibition explores how designers and wearers have challenged a deeper understanding of how gender, clothing and identity are intertwined. The multimedia presentation, which incorporates paintings, photographs, music and video, includes works from the MFA’s collection, as well as loans from museums, archives, private collections and fashion houses.

Toulouse-Lautrec and the Stars of Paris

Ann and Graham Gund Gallery
April 7–August 4, 2019

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901) captured the spectacle of modern Paris in evocative posters, prints and paintings. This exhibition of more than 200 works explores his extraordinary attention to performance—particularly the stars and entertainments of Montmartre, the bohemian center of Parisian nightlife. Using bold colors and radical compositions, Toulouse-Lautrec depicted the defining gestures, costumes and expressions of the celebrities of the day, many of whom were his personal friends. His images of performers—including cabaret stars Yvette Guilbert and Aristide Bruant, dancers Jane Avril and Loïe Fuller, and actress Marcelle Lender—contributed to their fame, distributed through prints and posters to an eager audience. The exhibition examines how Toulouse-Lautrec pushed his art in new directions to portray the celebrity culture of his time—equally fascinated, much like today, with the performers’ personal lives as with the roles they played. Thematic sections also highlight the changing social and artistic landscapes of 19th-century Paris and the contemporary importance of prints and posters. The display incorporates works by Toulouse-Lautrec’s contemporaries Edgar Degas, Honoré Daumier, Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard and others—presenting him in the context of his heroes, peers and followers. Organized by the MFA in partnership with the Boston Public Library, the exhibition draws on both institutions’ rich holdings of works by the artist and is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue produced by MFA Publications.

Current Exhibitions

Claes Oldenburg: Shelf Life

Henry and Lois Foster Gallery
through December 2, 2018

An exploration of how ideas regarding artistic process, product and practice resonate across time, this exhibition juxtaposes contemporary sculpture by Claes Oldenburg (born 1929) with a selection of 17th-century Dutch still-life paintings from the MFA’s collection, recently enhanced with promised gifts from Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo and Susan and Matthew Weatherbie. Oldenburg’s Shelf Life (2017) is a set of 15 mixed-media sculptures, each comprising a custom-made shelf upon which the artist has arranged a display of miniature objects that reference his most iconic works—many of them outsized sculptures or large-scale public art installations created over the past six decades. Each intimate vignette of objects in Shelf Life was carefully choreographed by Oldenburg, much in the way that the objects and foodstuffs in Dutch still lifes appear haphazardly composed but are, in actuality, meticulously arranged. The installation features a group of monochromatic “breakfast pieces” by Pieter Claesz. (1597–1660), in which the same items appear again and again, organized differently from composition to composition. This use of repetition is echoed in Shelf Life, in which Oldenburg refers to motifs that have surfaced in his practice over the course of years, varying in material and scale. Also included are vanitas still lifes, including one by Cornelis Norbertus Gijsbrechts (active in 1659–1675), filled with symbols of the transience of human life. Exemplifying the concept of ars longa, vita brevis (“art is long, life is short”), such a painting also resonates with Shelf Life, a retrospective project from a late stage in Oldenburg’s career—in his words, “a time to decide what one keeps.”

Lorraine O’Grady: Family Gained

Henry and Lois Foster Gallery
through December 2, 2018

When the Boston-born, New York-based artist Lorraine O’Grady (born 1934) visited Egypt in her 20s, two years after the unexpected death of her sister, she found herself surrounded for the first time by people who looked like her. While walking the streets of Cairo, the loss of her only sibling, Devonia, became confounded with the image of “a larger family gained.” Upon returning to the U.S., O’Grady began painstaking research on ancient Egypt, particularly the Amarna period of Nefertiti and Akhenaton, finding narrative and visual resemblances between their family and her own. This exhibition celebrates the recent acquisition of Miscegenated Family Album (1980/1994)—the first work by O’Grady to enter the MFA’s collection—consisting of 16 diptychs of color photographs that compare Devonia’s family with that of Nefertiti. The title of this major installation reclaims the pejorative term “miscegenation,” which was used in the context of the post-Civil War laws that made interracial marriage illegal until 1967. In this strongly feminist “novel in space,” as the artist describes it, O’Grady attempts to resolve a troubled relationship with her older sister by inserting their story into that of Nefertiti and her younger sister, Mutnedjmet. Paired images form visual “chapters” on topics such as motherhood, ceremonial occasions, husbands and aging. Also on view for the first time are the only remaining photographs that document Nefertiti/Devonia Evangeline, the 1980 performance that led to Miscegenated Family Album. Lorraine O’Grady: Family Gained represents an important moment of exhibiting the photographs in the city where O’Grady grew up in a family of Jamaican immigrants. Installed at the MFA, which contains one of the world’s greatest collections of ancient Egyptian art, the work reflects O’Grady’s view of ancient Egypt as a “bridge” country—the cultural and racial amalgamation of Africa and the Middle East, which flourished only after its southern half conquered and united with its northern half in 3000 B.C. Both families featured in the photographs—one ancient and royal, the other modern and descended from slaves—are products of historic forces of displacement and hybridization.

Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic

Lois B. and Michael K. Torf Gallery
through January 6, 2019

The beloved teddy bear at the center of Winnie-the-Pooh, first published in 1926 and translated into more than 50 languages, is one of the most famous children’s book characters of all time. This exhibition traces the history and universal appeal of the classic Winnie-the-Pooh stories written by A. A. Milne (1882–1956) and illustrated by E. H. Shepard (1879–1976) through nearly 200 works drawn from the archives of the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), the Walt Disney Company, Egmont Publishing, the Shepard Trust and the University of Surrey. Original drawings, proofs and early editions, letters, photographs, cartoons, ceramics and fashion take visitors on a journey exploring how the stories of Pooh and his friends Eeyore, Kanga and Roo, Owl, Piglet, Rabbit, Tigger and Christopher Robin have stood the test of time and continue to resonate with families around the world. Exhibition organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. “Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic” is sponsored by Hood Milk. Additional support provided by the Patricia B. Jacoby Exhibition Fund and the MFA Associates / MFA Senior Associates Exhibition Endowment Fund.

French Pastels: Treasures from the Vault

Charlotte F. and Irving W. Rabb Gallery
through January 6, 2019

Fragile and light-sensitive, pastels can only infrequently be displayed, typically for just a few months per decade. This exhibition provides a rare opportunity to see nearly 40 masterworks by 10 avant-garde artists who reinvigorated the challenging medium in the 19th century, from depictions of rural life by Jean-François Millet (1814–1875) to portrayals of ballerinas by Edgar Degas (1834–1917). Drawn primarily from the MFA’s holdings and supplemented by key loans from a private collection, the exhibition is organized thematically, showcasing artists’ interests in capturing the ephemeral—whether manifested in fleeting expressions of the face, the movement of fabric or atmospheric effects—and finding beauty in the mundane. New and bold colors, made possible by the advent of synthetic dyes, encouraged experimentation with pastel in the mid-19th century, and Millet and Degas were the leading innovators. In addition to exploring their techniques and artistic processes, the exhibition also highlights works by their contemporaries: Claude Monet (1840–1926), Mary Cassatt (1844–1926), Edouard Manet (1832–1883), Camille Pissarro (1830–1903), Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919), Johan Frederik Thaulow (1847–1906), Odilon Redon (1840–1916) and Léon-Augustin Lhermitte (1844–1925). Supported by the Robert Lehman Foundation and Davis and Carol Noble.

Cecilia Vicuña: Disappeared Quipu

John F. Cogan, Jr. and Mary L. Cornille Gallery
through January 21, 2019

For millennia, ancient peoples of the Andes created quipus—complex record-keeping devices, made of knotted cords, that served as an essential medium for reading and writing, registering and remembering. New York-based Chilean artist and poet Cecilia Vicuña (born 1948) has devoted a significant part of her artistic practice to studying, interpreting and reactivating quipus, which were banned by the Spanish during their colonization of South America. Drawing on her indigenous heritage, Vicuña channels this ancient, sensorial mode of communication into immersive installations and participatory performances. This exhibition pairs five ancient quipus on loan from the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University with a newly commissioned, site-specific installation by Vicuña that combines monumental strands of knotted wool with a four-channel video projection. Together, these quipus of the past and present explore the nature of language and memory, the resilience of native people in the face of colonial repression, and Vicuña’s own experiences living in exile from her native Chile. The exhibition, organized by the MFA and the Brooklyn Museum, is accompanied by participatory performances by the artist, which will incorporate poetry and song. Generously supported by the Museum Council Artist in Residency Program Fund.

The Art of Influence: Propaganda Postcards from the Era of World Wars

Herb Ritts Gallery and Clementine Brown Gallery
through January 21, 2019

Drawn from the Leonard A. Lauder Postcard Archive, this exhibition presents approximately 150 postcards from the 1920s through the end of World War II, a time of conflict and upheaval on a global scale. With pithy slogans and bold colors, striking graphics and biting caricatures, postcards from the first half of the 20th century conveyed messages that were easily understood and remembered. This is art with an agenda, meant to justify war, lionize leaders, demonize the enemy or underscore the need for citizens to make sacrifices for the cause. The Art of Influence highlights postcards as both valuable historical documents and masterworks of graphic design. Featuring several hundred postcards produced in Europe, the Soviet Union, the U.S. and Japan, the exhibition explores a range of themes connected to early-20th-century propaganda, including leaders, heroes, villains, abstractions, fake news and mockery. Whether produced by government propaganda bureaus, opportunistic publishers, aid organizations or resistance movements, postcards were designed to build and maintain public support as the world hurtled from one crisis to the next. Additionally, the exhibition features selected posters and film clips that demonstrate the potency of propaganda across a wide range of media. The same techniques and themes were in play no matter the politics of the regime. The Art of Influence invites visitors to consider how politics and propaganda are intertwined, both in the context of the first half of the 20th century and today.

Candice Breitz: Love Story

Eunice and Julian Cohen Galleria
through January 21, 2019

Making its U.S. debut at the MFA, Love Story (2016) by Candice Breitz (born 1972) is a seven-channel video installation that draws attention to the global refugee crisis through the power of celebrity. Breitz, a South African artist based in Berlin, conducted interviews with six individuals who fled their countries in response to oppressive conditions: a transgender hijra from India, a gay academic from Venezuela, a swimmer from Syria, an atheist from Somalia, a former child soldier from Angola, and the victim of sexual violence from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Visitors first encounter these stories on a large screen performed not by the refugees themselves, but by American actors Alec Baldwin and Julianne Moore. In a second space, Breitz’s interview footage of the refugees appears on six monitors, with each of them recounting his or her own experience of migration—often filled with grueling details. Together, the varied approaches to presenting the same narratives raise questions about how we consume and process tragedy—as well as show empathy—depending on the protagonist.

Collecting Stories: Native American Art

Bernard and Barbara Stern Shapiro Gallery
through March 10, 2019

The MFA opened its doors to the public on July 4, 1876, in the midst of a watershed moment in U.S. history. While some Americans touted progress and industrialization at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, others struggled through the ongoing hardships of Reconstruction and the Indian Wars. During this formative period, the MFA became one of the first encyclopedic art museums to collect Native American art, representing both ancient civilizations and contemporary cultures. The exhibition examines this early collection from different perspectives, exploring stories of the communities of Native artists who created pottery, textiles and beadwork, as well as the MFA founders who collected such objects during their travels to the Great Plains and Southwest. Highlights include an early Navajo (Diné) wearing blanket (1840–60), a masterpiece given to the Museum by Denman Waldo Ross; a Plains roach, or headpiece (about 1880), given by Reverend Herbert Probert; and important Zuni pottery (1810–90) given by General Charles Greely Loring. A key centerpiece is the recently acquired “Progress Vase” (about 1875), made for the Centennial Exposition by the Taunton, Massachusetts silver company Reed and Barton. Featuring a dramatic depiction of the “Discovery of America” by Christopher Columbus, flanked by stereotyped Native American figures representing the “savage” and classicized figures representing the “civilized,” the object tells a mythic American origin story that is challenged by the works of Native American artists and their place in the foundational collection of the MFA. This is the first of three sequential exhibitions using works from the MFA’s collection to address critical themes in American art and the formation of a modern American identity. Generously supported by the Henry Luce Foundation.