Celebration of 20th Anniversary of MFA Boston Director Malcolm Rogers Welcomes 4,012 Visitors to Free Day and Raises More Than $2.3 million for Community and Education Programs

Mayor Walsh Declares “Malcolm Rogers Day,” Prudential Tower Illuminated with “MR 20” and MFA kicks of "20 Reasons to Visit" campaign

BOSTON, MA (September 7, 2014)—This weekend, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), celebrated Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director, with events and activities marking his 20th anniversary at the Museum. Sunday, September 7 was declared “Malcolm Rogers Day” in Boston by Mayor Martin J. Walsh, who also attended a gala in Rogers’ honor on Saturday evening. WCVB-TV Chronicle host J.C. Monahan served as Master of Ceremonies at the gala, which raised more than $2.3 million in support of education, access and community programs at the MFA––highlighting Rogers’ commitment to these areas. Last year, 250,000 visitors participated in the MFA’s educational and community offerings, including more than 50,000 visitors at free open houses and cultural celebrations and 3,000 to MFA access programs for visitors with disabilities. Funds raised will support the role of the MFA’s Manager of Accessibility, free open houses and community days, and the expansion of the MFA Guide––an iPod Touch device that features multimedia tours in 10 languages, including American Sign Language. On Sunday, the free “MFA Community Day: Celebrating 20 Years of Director Malcolm Rogers,” welcomed 4,012 visitors and kicked off the MFA’s “20 Reasons to Visit” campaign highlighting a range of exhibitions, activities and programs taking place in September. Other weekend moments included The Prudential Tower illuminated with “MR 20” and local public broadcaster WGBH’s landmark digital mural overlooking the Massachusetts Turnpike––which displayed images of Rogers on Saturday.

The Gala is generously supported by Bank of America. Wine and champagne generously gifted by Martignetti Companies. MFA Community Day: Celebrating 20 Years of Ann and Graham Gund Director Malcolm Rogers is supported by The Malcolm Rogers 20th Anniversary Fund.

Gala and “MFA by Moonlight” party–Saturday, September 6

On Saturday evening, 500 guests feted Rogers at a sold-out gala, co-chaired by Honorary Trustee Ann Gund and her husband Graham, Honorary Trustee George D. Behrakis and his wife Margo, and Bank of America Global Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer Anne M. Finucane. Proceeds from the gala raised more than $2.3 million in support of education, access and community programs at the MFA. Mayor Walsh attended as honorary chair, joining other guests including contemporary artist Shinique Smith, whose exhibition Shinique Smith: BRIGHT MATTER is currently on view at the Museum. Acclaimed opera singer Susan Graham performed, while other highlights included illusions by magician Cardone and a video tribute to Rogers featuring messages from Finucane; Governor Deval Patrick, Commonwealth of Massachusetts; Josh Kraft, Nicholas President and CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston; artist David Hockney; Victoria Reggie Kennedy, MFA Overseer; Norman Foster, Chairman and Founder, Foster + Partners; Sam Jones and Chavelyn Santana, MFA Teen Arts Council members; Sylvia Simmons, MFA Gallery Instructor and Honorary Trustee; Beth Altcheck, Natick Public School Teacher, MFA Educator Advisory Board; and Leon Jerfita, MFA American Sign Language Guide representative.

There were surprises throughout the evening, including gifts presented and pledged to the Museum in honor of Rogers. Honorary Trustee Barbara Alfond and her husband Ted pledged to give two pieces of early American painted furniture, currently on view in the Art of the Americas Wing. The colorful works, which reveal the inventiveness of American artists, include the Northern New England chest of drawers painted in a variety of brushstrokes to create the appearance of decorative wood grain patterns; and a Pennsylvania chest made in the late eighteenth century, which was painted by an unidentified German-American artist who is now called the “Embroidery Artist” for the style of his beautiful floral decoration.

“Like so many new Americans from around the world—Amish, Spanish, French, German, and English among them—Malcolm will leave behind a lasting aesthetic and architectural legacy,” said Barbara Alfond. “These two painted chests are examples of ordinary objects that have been elevated, through a combination of Old World traditions, New World materials, and individual creativity, into distinctively American art forms … much, we dare say, like Malcolm Rogers himself.”

Trustee Richard Lubin and his wife Nancy pledged a gift of a large-scale relief painting by Ellsworth Kelly. Kelly, a graduate of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA), is one of the SMFA’s most famous alumni and one of its longest living at the age of 91. Titled White Relief Over White, Kelly created the work—a pair of joined panels—in 2012. 

“It is our great pleasure to honor Malcolm’s 20-year tenure with a promised gift of art,” said Richard Lubin. “It seems a fitting way to honor a man who has been instrumental in causing so much great art to find its way to the MFA.”

The final gift of the evening was a concert piano. Hand selected at Steinway & Sons in New York by Honorary Trustee Gabriella Beranek and her husband Leo, the piano will be used for future performances at the MFA. “We wanted to provide a living legacy at the Museum for Malcolm,” said Gabriella Beranek. “Whenever someone is playing and filling our galleries with music, it will be in honor of Malcolm and how he has revitalized the Museum and touched all of us.”

Following the gala, a sold-out late-night party, “MFA by Moonlight,” included dancing in the Calderwood Courtyard to music by DJ James Murphy, along with cocktails and hors d’oerves.

Malcolm Rogers Day/MFA Community Day–Sunday, September 7

A hallmark of Rogers’ 20-year tenure has been the increase in free community open houses and cultural celebrations at the MFA. The free “MFA Community Day: Celebrating 20 Years of Director Malcolm Rogers” on Sunday served as the kick-off of the Museum’s “20 Reasons to Visit” campaign, marking Rogers’ tenure at the Museum with an array of not-to-miss programs and exhibitions this fall. The Community Day, which coincided with “Malcolm Rogers Day” in the City of Boston, began with Rogers greeting visitors in line at the Museum’s Huntington Avenue entrance on Bank of America Plaza. Throughout the day, 4,012 visitors passed through the Museum’s doors to enjoy art-making and demonstrations, gallery tours, concerts and a photo booth. One of the many highlights of the day included a performance piece by Shinique Smith, Gesture I: Unraveling, which featured the artist’s signature fabric bundles, calligraphic lines, and dance sequences from her video, Breath of Life. Created by Smith, with choreography in collaboration with Marisa Arriaga and sound in collaboration with Gary Pennock, this first "gesture" is part of a series of performances through which Smith explores the body as an extension of her creative process. Additionally, the collaborative installation Sun Catcher made its debut in the Druker Family Pavilion in the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art. The artwork consists of thousands of transparent designs and was created over the summer by students attending MFA Studio Art classes, along with children from Camp Harbor View and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston and Lawrence.

20 Reasons to Visit

There are fun activities seven days a week—and all year round—at the Museum, and this fall, visitors can find at least “20 Reasons to Visit” the MFA. Families can travel back in time in three new classical galleries dedicated to Wine, Poets and Performers in Ancient Greece, or stop by the recently opened exhibition, Shinique Smith: BRIGHT MATTER. From new exhibitions such as Hollywood Glamour: Fashion and Jewelry from the Silver Screen and Karsh Goes Hollywood, to concerts, Drawing in the Galleries, shopping and more, visitors will find plenty of reasons to return.

Social media channels used the hashtag #MR20 to showcase the festivities surrounding Rogers’ anniversary, with fans and followers invited to participate on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Highlights included live coverage from the weekend’s events, visitors’ favorite MFA memories, and stories about the changes Rogers has made at the MFA over the past 20 years.

Access programs are funded by Bank of America. With additional support from The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation; The Lowell Institute; and the Maida S. Abrams Fund for Increasing Access and Educational Opportunities for People with Disabilities.

MFA Guide is made possible through the generous support of the John W. Henry Family Foundation.

Shinique Smith: BRIGHT MATTER is sponsored by Celebrity Cruises presented with generous support from the Robert and Jane Burke Fund for Exhibitions, The Contemporaries, and the Callaghan Family Fund for Contemporary Exhibitions. Additional support provided by the Eugenie Prendergast Memorial Fund, made possible by a grant from Jan and Warren Adelson.

Performance Art at the MFA is supported by Lorraine Bressler.

Drawing in the Galleries is made possible by The Lowell Institute.

Hollywood Glamour: Fashion and Jewelry from the Silver Screen is sponsored by Neil Lane Jewelry with additional support from the David and Roberta Logie Fund for Textile and Fashion Arts and the Loring Textile Exhibition Fund.

Open seven days a week, hours for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), are Saturday through Tuesday, 10 am–4:45 pm; and Wednesday through Friday, 10 am–9:45 pm. Admission (which includes one repeat visit within 10 days) is $25 for adults and $23 for seniors and students age 18 and older, and includes entry to all galleries and special exhibitions. Admission is free for University Members and youths age 17 and younger. Wednesday nights after 4 pm admission is by voluntary contribution (suggested donation $25). MFA Members are always admitted for free. The MFA is recognized for the quality and scope of its collection, which includes an estimated 500,000 objects. The Museum has more than 140 galleries displaying its encyclopedic collection, which includes Art of the Americas; Art of Europe; Contemporary Art; Art of Asia, Oceania, and Africa; Art of the Ancient World; Prints, Drawings, and Photographs; Textile and Fashion Arts; and Musical Instruments. The Museum’s mobile MFA Guide is available at ticket desks and the Sharf Visitor Center for $5, members; $6, non-members; and $4, youths. The Museum is closed on New Year’s Day, Patriots’ Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. For more information, visit mfa.org or call 617.267.9300. The MFA is located on the Avenue of the Arts at 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115.