Thursday, April 7, 2011

A New Perspective: The Art of the Americas Wing at the MFA (and their Multimedia Guide)

When I crave art, I head to the Portland Museum of Art, the RISD Museum in Providence, The Isabella Stuart Gardner or the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. In these more intimate museums, natural light pours in and you can appreciate what they have to offer. In the past, while I enjoyed seeing the masterpieces at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, they were often muddied, for me at least, in cramped spaces and shadows.
So, I carefully tracked the opening of the new Art of the Americas Wing. I was smitten on a first visit after it opened. However, the crowds overpowered the loveliness. I was, then, appreciative of the chance to go back care of BzzAgent. And this time BzzAgent also gave me a pass to try the MFA's new Multimedia Guide.
Both times I was torn about the main courtyard. On the one hand it seems like a space more designed for receptions than a museum, however, the high ceiling makes it an easy place to rest, to get a cup of coffee or to plan a next stop. The adjacent Art of the Americas wing is organized chronologically, with the most contemporary art on the top floor.
(Cesar Paternosto, Staccato, from the MFA)
And that floor is my most favorite. There you are greeted by Pollock and Calder. And in the back: two glorious works by Cesar Paternosto. On my first visit, I just stared at the colors and swirls. On my second visit, I enjoyed the ability to use the Multimedia guide to learn more about Paternosto and to watch a short video of him seeing his works on display at the MFA. Each floor of the Wing has gems, from beautiful textiles to the actual wood beams of a 17th century home to Mayan and Andean art to models of whaling ships.
While I prefer to absorb art visually, I will say that the Multimedia Guide was a wonderful source of information. Each art had different options. So, for some works you could get a curator's interpretation, while for others you could learn the historic and artistic context of the work.
I made this trip solo, but I hope to return to the MFA with my young sons. Although my kids are now 3 and 5, the MFA offers so many chances for kids to enjoy the museum. The Multimedia Guide has selections that would be great for older children. But as you enter the Courtyard, each Sunday there is a "Family Cart" filled with activities for kids of all ages. As I was at the museum I also passed young children clearly enjoying an MFA art class and bending wire to create Calder-like-esque creations.

For a great look at bringing young kids to the new Wing, check out Seth's awesome blog here. Or click here to get directly to the MFA's ideas for bringing the kids.

A few last tips: The MFA opens on Sunday's at 10 am. If you can, be in the neighborhood at about 9:45 and there is a likely chance you will find free parking. Better still there will be some semblance of quiet at the museum until the crowds pick up at 11 or 12. If you go after April 10th, you can also check out a fabulous looking exhibit by Dale Chihuly using glass. Finally, while you can eat at the MFA, I recommend checking out my up-coming post on one of my hand's down favorites, Coppa, which has an amazing brunch.

The Museum of Fine Arts (Including the Art of the Americas Wing and the Multimedia Guide)

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