Boston and Cambridge teem with some of the best museums in the nation, showcasing beautiful works of art, but here’s what to see (and what you really shouldn’t miss) at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts on Free Museum Day (September 23).
Start by checking out the museum’s big fall exhibit, Showdown! Kuniyoshi vs. Kunisada, running until December 10, which explores the rivalry and ukiyo-e woodblock prints of contemporaries Utagawa Kuniyoshi and Utagawa Kunisada. Go gaga for jewelry? The museum is hosting Past Is Present: Revival Jewelry through August 18, 2018, which traces history’s continuing impact on current designs through 70 objects culled from 4,000 years.
The museum’s permanent collection offers plenty of highlights, including the new American Wing, with portraits of the country’s first patriots and original silver work by Paul Revere. The Monet Room, a gallery dedicated to the work of the famed French painter, showcases his haystack paintings as well as La Japonaise, a colorful painting of the painter’s wife Camille in Japanese costume. The gallery is adjacent to the room holding just a fraction of the MFA’s stunning Impressionist collection and in minutes you can see works by Vincent Van Gogh (including the now iconic Postman piece), Gustave Caillebotte, Pierre-Auguste Renoir (You can’t take your eyes off his Dance at Bougival), and more. The Museum also boasts a sizable collection of contemporary and modern art from pieces by Rene Magritte, Pablo Picasso, and Kara Walker.
The MFA itself is a gem, from its stone facade to the John Singer Sargent murals on the rotunda ceiling to the neon green glass Chihuly sculpture in the courtyard and the sunlight filled garden cafe presided over by Great Dane statues Brenda and Hugo, which is the perfect spot to have lunch while recounting the collection you’ve just seen.