Boston, Massachusetts: Museum of Fine Arts

Entrance to the MFA

Trip Taken: 2010

Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts

Most of the online guides suggest the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) as one of the top tourist destinations in the city. I wanted to go there but I didn’t want to pay twenty bucks to see some art. I don’t think even the Louvre in Paris is that expensive. Good thing they have a program there to gain free admission on Wednesdays after 4pm.

My brother and I got into the city around 4pm. We switched from the red line to the green line and headed toward the direction of Northeastern University. We were going toward the Back Bay area of Boston. The green line actually took us above ground. You can definitely tell which building is the museum just by it simple design and massive size. Something about a building with few windows just screams museum.

The Galleries

Degas' Ballet Dancer

If I remember our tour guide correctly, there are five wings of the museum: the Asian, European, Classical, Egyptian, and American. I was disheartened to find out that the American wing would be under renovations until November. I wanted to see some of the paintings by Whistler and John Singer Sargent. But what do you expect with free admission.

The Asian galleries were ho-hum in my opinion. There was not enough context to the items where I can get excited by the history of where it came from. Some pieces were interesting like some of the statues and reliefs from Tibet. But in my opinion, the highlights of the trip were the European, Classical, and Egyptian wings.

The European wing featured some great paintings by Degas, Monet, Van Gogh, Manet, and many others. I hwas especially intrigued by Monet painting of Charing Cross. It captured the smoky tone of an Industrial era Britain, but the Thames also glowed golden as filled with hope that the bleak reality will pass. I must have stood there for a good five minutes just gazing at it from different angles.

The Egyptian galleries were filled with reliefs of pharaohs gone by and some interesting hieroglyphs written on walls. We were in a rush by then but it was cool to see some of the mummies and the sarcophagi. The Classical galleries contained a lot of pottery work from the Greeks and Romans. We rushed passed them and nothing really stood out in terms of ‘look at me’.

One of the highlights was the Sargent mural in the back atrium of the museum. It was one of only three murals John Singer Sargent painted in his lifetime. The three murals are at the MFA, the Boston Public Library, and at Harvard University.

Difficulties Getting Back

Boston's green line

One thing I have to mention about this day was that we had two roadblocks in getting home. It was still a very hot day, before any remnants of Hurricane Earl came to cool down the east coast heat. On the red line we were stuck in the station for a good thirty minutes because of some police activity at another station. It was hot, humid and with every passing minute, more people came into the station to wait. It was an inferno down there. The cool breeze from the climate controlled subway car was definitely a welcome relief. It sucks to be anyone not going to the last station, as it was an express train.

The second roadblock came in the form of a sword. A samurai sword bought in Los Angeles to be exact. It was one of the decorations my brother had brought from LA in his Audi. As we were driving back to the base, it was unfortunately the target of a vehicle search. He had to find someplace to put the sword as it was not allowed on base. Both of us called anyone with connections to see where we can find a safe place for it. He eventually got a hold of one of his buddies in Boston. That little adventure took us another hour off our scheduled arrival in our beds.

Parting Words

I think the MFA would be really spectacular with the addition of the new American wing. It said to house art pieces from all eras of American arts and crafts. The museum already has a great collection with the European and Egyptian wings. It was a shame that I didn’t get to see the American pieces but it was a great experience nonetheless.

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About the Author

John is always trying to find his way back to the road. He has an affinity for Germany due to his three years studying German at Cal, and a year working as an intern in the Stuttgart area. He also likes chocolate cake and good cheese.