A College Student’s Guide to the MFA

Everything you need to know as a college student interested in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Calling all students in the Boston area! New to Boston?

Welcome to a city that more than 150,000 students call home! If you’re an incoming first year or coming back to the Boston area, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is a great way to become involved in the community and meet other students.

Whether you’re looking to visit in person or engage remotely, these resources will support you in researching a school project, planning your next Museum date, or finding information on career opportunities.

Navigating the Museum | Research | How Museums Work | Other Resources

How to Navigate the Museum in Person

Coming to visit in person?

To learn more about general admission tickets, special exhibition tickets, or updated mask policies, review our Visit page with information about hours, access, and a map.

If you attend an institution that is part of the Museum’s University Membership Program, general admission tickets are free. If cost is a barrier for you or a family member’s experience at the MFA, please visit our Tickets page where you can find more information about special offers and events.

The Museum is a beautiful space to relax and spend time. If you are looking for a unique space to read, sketch, or concentrate on school work, the Museum offers plenty of peaceful areas. Calderwood Courtyard is located in the center of the MFA and is a great place to relax or grab a coffee from the Garden Cafeteria. The Huntington Avenue lawn is also a great place to enjoy a warm day in one of the many lawn chairs.

Follow this close looking guide to connect with our collection.

If you’re looking to take home part of the MFA experience, the Linde Family Wing Bookstore and Shop has home decor, jewelry, stationery, prints, Art on Demand, fashion accessories, and toys. The MFA also has an online shop with select items available for purchase and curbside pickup.

Outside the Museum

The MFA has developed a range of different resources from academic research, arts education, podcasts, to college student digital programs that can be accessed from your own device.

Doing a Research Project?

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’s databases can be accessed for research from anywhere. Many of the Museum’s objects have been digitally documented and can be found within the MFA collections database, a great resource featuring information about over 500,000 items across numerous curatorial departments.

The MFA library is also a great resource that students can utilize for all their research needs.

MFA Images provides professional, high-quality images and replicas of MFA works for personal and study purposes.

The MFA Mobile app is a versatile resource for remote users to enjoy free gallery content. Learn more about MFA Mobile and how to download for your device on the MFA Mobile page.

Google Arts and Culture is a brochure that includes online exhibits, digitized art, and a virtual tour throughout the museum.

The MFA Videos as well as the MFA’s YouTube channel offer curated collections of interviews with artists and curators, art history lectures, behind the scenes exhibit content, and much more.

How Museums Work

Curious about how museums work?

We want to improve museum transparency. That starts with learning about how these institutions function. Each of our employees plays an important role in creating an enriching museum experience, from acquiring and caring for objects and designing exhibitions to working with audiences to interpret collections. Museum professionals work collaboratively across departments such as curatorial, education, design, conservation, public relations and more, using a range of interdisciplinary skills.

Highlighted YouTube Videos

To learn more about museum professionals and their role at the MFA, check out these videos on the MFA’s YouTube channel.

Also check out the MFA Voices playlist on YouTube to hear about the experiences of staff members throughout the Museum.

Art conservation is the preservation of artistic, historic, and cultural materials intended to protect and preserve works of art. A unique behind-the-scenes perspective into this profession is on view in the Conservation Center.

What can I see when I visit? What is the difference between the permanent collection and special exhibitions?

Works from the MFA’s collection are mostly displayed in galleries dedicated to the art and objects from a certain geographic location, time period, or medium. Most of the works you’ll see in the galleries are owned by the MFA and many displays are ”permanent,” that is, they are on view for the foreseeable future and will be there the next time you visit.

Exhibitions are curated collections, usually about certain artists or themes and often have works that are from other collections in addition to the MFA’s. Often years in the planning, special. exhibitions are temporary and usually on display for a limited period of time. Learn more about exhibitions:

How is the collection organized?

With more than 500,000 objects, not all the Museum’s works are on view in the galleries. Our collection is organized by geographic location, time period, and medium in different collection areas. From Art of Africa and Oceania to Art of Asia, the Museum recognizes the importance of sharing works from all over the globe. The Contemporary Art collection reflects the MFA’s ability to adapt and acknowledge the expanding boundaries of the art world. And collections like Prints and Drawings and Photography illustrate how different mediums can embody historical storytelling through different perspectives. The MFA is one of the largest museums of its kind in North America, and with such a broad collection, it draws upon this diversity to contribute to a holistic and enriching museum-going experience.

Interested in pursuing a career in museums or other cultural institutions?

Student Internships are a great way students can explore the different roles within the Museum. A variety of internships across Museum departments are posted throughout the year.

The MFA Ambassador Program is also a great opportunity open to work-study eligible students at participating universities. Ambassadors help visitors plan and navigate the Museum and offer guidance and interpretation.

Other Resources

Looking to improve your studio art skills?

The MFA offers a variety of adult classes in drawing, acrylic painting, watercolor, printmaking, and mixed media for artists at any stage on their journey. To sign up and learn more about studio art classes, visit Adult Studio Art Classes.