School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to Become Part of Tufts University in 2016

BOSTON and MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. (December 22, 2015)—The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), and Tufts University have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) outlining the transition of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) to Tufts University. The parties’ agreement in principle has received initial approval from the Boards of Trustees of both institutions, creating a new educational model that would make Tufts one of only a few universities in the United States with an arts program affiliated with a major museum. This new partnership expands the longstanding relationship between the SMFA and Tufts, which began in 1944.

“The fine arts are a critical component of a liberal arts education. Making the School of the Museum of Fine Arts part of Tufts is a unique and compelling opportunity to support and strengthen our academic mission,” said Tufts President Anthony P. Monaco. “We are excited about this landmark agreement, which gives Tufts an exemplary and highly distinctive arts program.”

Tufts would assume the operations of the SMFA from the Museum (pending continued study, review and final approval of definitive agreements in the coming months) as of June 30, 2016. The SMFA would become part of Tufts’ School of Arts and Sciences. Faculty and students in arts and sciences, as well as across the university, would have enriched academic and programmatic opportunities and enhanced access to the Museum’s collections and staff. 

“For nearly 140 years, the SMFA has provided exceptional educational leadership,” said Matthew Teitelbaum, Ann and Graham Gund Director of the MFA. “This expanded partnership will create extensive opportunities for scholarship, collaboration and creativity amongst the communities of Tufts, the SMFA, the Museum, and, most especially, for artists.”

Tufts and the SMFA have had a relationship for more than 70 years. Tufts has provided liberal arts courses, as well as accredited bachelor and master of fine arts degrees, to SMFA students. The SMFA has offered courses in studio arts to Tufts students. The two institutions have also offered a joint, five-year undergraduate degree. If the final terms of the proposed transaction are approved, current SMFA students will become Tufts students. 

“This powerful three-way partnership is a bold proposition about not only educating artists, but also the central place of the arts in education and, in fact, the world itself. It’s an exciting moment for us all,” said Christopher Bratton, President of the SMFA.

About Tufts University

Tufts University, located on three Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville and Grafton, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all Tufts campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate and professional programs across the university's schools is widely encouraged.

About the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Founded in 1876 and accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (SMFA), is one of only two art schools in the country affiliated with a major museum—the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Distinguished alumni include Lalla Essaydi, Omer Fast, Nan Goldin, Joan Jonas, Loïs Mailou Jones, Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Scarry, Doug and Mike Starn, and Edmund Tarbell. Our mission is to provide an education in the fine arts—for undergraduate and graduate artists—that is interdisciplinary and self-directed. This education values cultural, artistic and intellectual diversity; it embraces a wide range of media; it stresses the development of individual vision and its relation to culture in general; it values equally the knowledge gained by thinking and doing; it is deeply engaged with the world as a whole. If the mission is constant, its practice is always transforming. For more information about our programs and partnerships, visit

About the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), is recognized for the quality and scope of its collection, representing all cultures and time periods. Open seven days a week, 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 welcomes approximately 1 million visitors annually, many of whom participate in a wide range of education and community programs. Tufts is part of the MFA’s University Membership program, which allows free access to the MFA for local area college students. For more information, visit The MFA is located on the Avenue of the Arts at 465 Huntington Avenue in Boston.