I went to the Boston Museum of
Fine Arts on Saturday.
I was going to write a deep essay, but it would take too much
time, so here are some random observations:
- The flow of the European painting galleries is currently
very confusing. You walk out of the 14th century chapel into
19th century French art. There used to be a fairly logical
progression from Medieval to almost-twentieth-century art, but
if there’s any logic to it now, I couldn’t find it.
- There was a similar problem downstairs in the Art of the
Americas gallery — we were in the American Revolution, and then
all of a sudden we were in Peru, and then we were in early
nineteenth-century Boston. If there were rooms about other
places in South America, I never found them.
- I did manage to find the Turner Slave
Ship. I don’t think I’ve ever been in the presence of any
work of art that’s so immediately affecting. I have seen the
Mona Lisa and the Pieta, but this is
just hanging there on the wall and you can walk right up to it.
It is listed in the brochure as one of the 12 greatest hits, but
otherwise it’s treated just like any other picture.
- The Rembrandt etchings were interesting, but to really see
them, you’d need better light and a magnifying glass.
- The other current exhibition I enjoyed was the Loïs
Mailou Jones one. My favorite of her works was a painting
called My Mother’s Hats — her mother was a
- The most memorable new-to-me work I saw was a Japanese print
of a daemon who committed suicide after flunking the civil
service exam. It’s in red.
- You shouldn’t even try to see everything in one afternoon —
we should have left and hung out in the pub across the street
about an hour before we did.
My sister, who bought the tickets, got an email request to fill
out a particularly annoying survey about her experience. For
instance, they asked what the purpose of the visit was, and “To
see the art” wasn’t one of the choices:
Which of the following statements best describes your reason for visiting the MFA? *This question is required. * I went to see a specific exhibit and/or learn about a specific topic * I went to have a new experience and just follow whatever sparked my curiosity and interest * I came to spend time with friends and/or family and help them have a meaningful experience at the MFA * I went to attend a specific program, lecture, course, concert, class, and/or film * I like to seek out interesting things to do and the MFA is considered an important institution in Boston * I went to relax in a peaceful setting and contemplate the art and/or myself