Third Thursdays at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

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Today’s post is a throwback to my trip to Boston last year. Apologies for the lack of pictures, my phone was in a pitiful state at the time.

Many museums have monthly events like a mini party, and I went to one at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. I hadn’t had the chance to visit the museum before, and this was not the best time to do so as it was pretty crowded; but I still got a relatively good feel of it. So Third Thursdays happen every third thursday of each month there, and they’re an evening event featuring some live music, spotlight talks, and alcohol. There was a mini treasure hunt the day I went which was really cool and fit the spirit of the museum.

This post is not going to be a fully fleshed museum review because it wasn’t  fully fleshed visit, but I will share my observations. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is a house museum, which is usually not my thing, but this one is really beautiful. Plus, Isabella Stewart Gardner was an art patron and collector herself, which makes it so much more interesting because you get to see her collection as well as her house. I think this museum gets a little overshadowed by the MFA which is very nearby, but it tells a completely different story and is much more intimate without being small. I highly encourage everyone to visit it, on a Third Thursday or not, and I will definitely go back there on my next trip to Boston.

Here is some info on the upcoming Third Thursdays

And some info on Isabella Stewart Gardner who’s a very cool woman to look up to since it was International Women’s Day last week

And finally a link to the museum’s websiteIMG-20150619-WA0010

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All Art Has Been Contemporary

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Image courtesy of the MFA Boston

This neon installation by Maurizio Nannucci is part of the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. You can check out the picture below to see how it looks like on display today. Nannucci is an artist who works a lot with neon, but this piece is particularly striking to me because it’s self referring. It’s a reflection on art by an artist, and more specifically on contemporary art by a contemporary artist. Now for the backstory, I’ve been getting more and more interested in contemporary art thanks to my current job, and I find it interesting how simple it can be while at the same time conveying some important depth. All art has indeed been contemporary, but not all art has been called contemporary. Should we have a new designation for what is understood today as contemporary art or is that the job of future generations to classify it and figure it out? A lot of artistic currents in the past were self named and it’s not all a categorization imposed by art historians. So yeah, after all, a piece of art is something that should trigger some sort of thinking; and this is working quite well here.DSC_1234

Walking Across Beacon Hill

Snapchat--622479766898907588Note: I’m not great with pictures, especially since these are taken from my snapchat story but I’m getting better.

I decided to visit Beacon Hill on a rainy day in Boston. It’s a good option if you want to walk around the city but do things that are less touristy than the Freedom Trail. It was a short walk, about an hour, but you can stop by to visit some sites on the way. Beacon Hill is a 19th century historic district with a lot of charm. It is quite a high end residential neighborhood located in the center of Boston.

I started at the Massachusetts State House (picture below), which you can get to by taking the T to Park Street. You can visit the State House for free. I then walked along Beacon Street, which overlooks Boston Common; and turned up onto Joy Street to reach Mount Vernon Street. Mount Vernon Street is a picturesque alley with many notable buildings, such at the Nichols House Museum (at number 55), which I wanted to visit but I got there after opening hours.

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About halfway down Mount Vernon Street, I turned onto Louisburg Square, which notably housed Senator John Kerry and Louisa May Alcott. I then walked across Lewis Street to reach Acorn Street (pictured below), a tiny pedestrian cobblestone alley that is believed to be the most photographed street in America. It is filled with tiny houses that were originally inhabited by servants of the families who lived in the large houses on the main streets.

I walked on Acorn Street then reached West Cedar Street, then walked down to Chestnut street until I reached Charles street. This is the most commercial street of Beacon Hill and is filled with cute boutiques, antiques shops, and local bakeries and restaurants. I strolled along there for a while and this is where I finished my walk.

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To learn more about Beacon Hill and check out the itinerary I followed, head here. All in all, it’s a charming neighborhood, probably my favorite in Boston and I really enjoyed my walk there.

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Lime Green Icicle Tower

DSC_1219This incredible sculpture is a blown glass and steel installation made in 2011 by American artist Dale Chihuly. It is currently exhibited in the Shapiro courtyard at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (check out my review here). This piece is over 12m tall, you can compare it to the size of the people in the picture, and it looks like a huge pile of leaves. I think it looks great where it is exhibited, it’s so eye-catching but without being imposing. Stay tuned for more work by Chihuly because I’m a great fan of his art and I find it incredibly impressive.

Museum of Fine Arts Review

DSC_1210Useful Info:

  • Collections: Art from the five continents, ranging from the Ancient World to Contemporary Art.
  • City: Boston, MA, USA.
  • Opening hours: Saturday-Tuesday: 10am-4:45pm; Wednesday-Friday: 10am-9:45pm
  • Price: $25 regular, $23 concessions, free for children under 17 or 6 (depending on visit time)
  • Website

The MFA is the first place I visited in Boston and it is still my favorite museum that I visited during my US East Coast trip,but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. The first thing you should know is that the MFA is a big museum, but it is still manageable. I spent approximately five hours there but I took my time and had a lunch break. The museum has 4 floors, and is divided into five main wings plus special exhibitions. I entered from the Fenway entrance (North) that you can see on the panoramic picture,which takes you straight through the European Art galleries, one levels 1 and 2. On the East wing, and spread across all four floors is the Art of the Americas. Then, the South wing is divided between Art of the Ancient world to the East (levels 1 and 2), and Art of Asia, Oceania, and Africa (levels 1 and 2). Finally, the West wing houses the contemporary art galleries on levels 1 and 2. This may sound a bit complex but the museum is actually really easy to navigate and the color-coded visitor map is very easy to read and features highlights from the collections and where to find them. There are two reference points at the center of the museum: the Shapiro Family courtyard (pictured below) and the Rotunda.

DSC_1220There are many things I really enjoyed about these museums, but here are some highlights. Firstly, I found the museum extremely easy to navigate. All the galleries are clearly numbered and there are almost no dead ends, so you can have a fluid visit without having to repeat rooms. So even though the museum is large, you don’t waste time by tracing back your steps. Another thing I appreciated were the free tours offered regularly in all areas of the museum. I think that they partly justify the cost of the entry ticket. I didn’t listen to a complete one but I stumbled upon a couple and they seemed interesting and led by professional and knowledgeable people who don’t only talk about the art itself but also give some anecdotes about it and how it relates to the outside world. Speaking of value for money, another interesting feature of the MFA are the “Conservation in action” rooms (pictured below). My friend who was interning there told me that the curators are not a fan of these rooms because they take up some of the storage space but as a visitor, I thought it was a great addition to the museum. You get to see conservators work on some pieces through a glass wall, which can be a little strange but is also a really nice insight on the behind the scenes aspect of the museum life.

DSC_1266The price for the ticket also includes temporary exhibitions. The Hokusai exhibit was on  during my visit and I highly recommend it. It runs until August 9 2015. This exhibition was one of my highlights because it was so simply yet well designed. Every part focused on a theme, and the wall colors changed accordingly. It was easy to understand even without reading labels and explanatory panels, which provided more in depth information. There was also a small display case at the exit with objects that the museum staff gathered featuring the famous wave, which I thought was engaging. The most impressive part is probably that all the pieces on display (and it is a substantial exhibit) belong to the collection of the MFA. In terms of the permanent collection, my favorite displays included ancient jewelry and a case with Egyptian faience, both in the Ancient World wing. This wing is being renovated, so there are some new rooms and some older ones, and it should be even more impressive in the future. Another favorite of mine is the Contemporary Art wing (pictured below) which features some impressive pieces.

DSC_1234I would suggest two options for visiting the MFA. Either you want to do a comprehensive visit, in which case it is worth spending a few hours there. You can have a lunch or snack break; I had mine in the garden cafeteria which I highly recommend. You have a great choice of food, including an elaborate salad bar, and beautiful seating outside if it’s a nice day. The other option is picking a wing or two plus possibly a temporary exhibition and just visiting those parts, in which case it would take a couple of hours. Overall, I think that the MFA is more than just worth a visit. It is comprehensive without being overwhelming, well designed and well curated, engaging but not imposing. The pictures I took don’t do it justice but I love this museum and I can’t wait until I visit it again. Stay on the lookout for more reviews and musings in Boston, New York, and Washington DC, and for some new art inspired by everything I saw during my trip.

Rating

  • Accessibility (location, price, disabled access, transport links and parking): 7.5/10
  • Architecture: 8.5/10
  • Collections: 9.5/10
  • Display: 9/10
  • Resources (explanation panels, guides, plans): 9/10
  • Extras (shop, events, exhibitions): 8/10
  • Overall: 9/10

American Musings

Dear readers,

I am currently on a three week trip to the East Coast of the USA and I’ll be spending time in Boston, New York, and Washington DC. This means that a lot of new posts are coming up but as I’m trying to make the most of my trip, I won’t have time to update the blog a lot until I’m back home. This is just my second day and I already have a review of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston starting to be drafted plus some new ideas for exhibitions and some artwork to share. I just don’t want to post stuff before syncing my pictures and I would like to take the time to write good posts and not just rushed stuff because I feel like this would be unfair.

So stay on the lookout for lots of new updates very soon and thank you for your patience 🙂