Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, Massachusetts)

Pierre-Auguste Renoir  painted "Dance at Bougival" in 1882-1883. This image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired. The painting can be seen at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir painted "Dance at Bougival" in 1882-1883. This image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired. The painting can be seen at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. | Source

Brief History of Boston

Boston was founded in what is now the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1630 by Puritan colonists from England. The town became the commercial, financial, and educational center of the area in the seventeenth century. Boston Latin School was founded in 1635 and Harvard College was founded in 1636.

In the eighteenth century, Boston was the political center of the area. The Boston Massacre occurred on March 5, 1770, the Boston Tea Party occurred on December 16, 1773, and Paul Revere began his Midnight Ride on April 18, 1775.

In the middle of the nineteenth century, Boston published books, set the intellectual tone for the country, and combined thriving commerce with spiritual and cultural pursuits. The problem that many persons saw with the town was that Boston didn’t have a symphony orchestra or a museum.

Legislature Grants Museum Charter

On February 4, 1870, the Massachusetts Legislature granted a charter to a board of trustees for the founding of an art museum in Boston. The city provided a plot of land in the new Back Bay area, facing what would later become Copley Square.

The nucleus of the museum was provided by several art collectors, who wanted to make the paintings they had amassed available to the general public in a central location.

Harvard College wanted to exhibit its engravings and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) wanted to exhibit its architectural casts. The Boston Athenaeum, a membership library which opened in 1807, wanted its paintings and sculpture to be seen, and the City of Boston wanted to showcase its historic portraits.

Paul Cezanne painted "Madame Cezanne in a Red Armchair" in 1877. The painting is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The work of art depicted in this image and the reproduction thereof are in the public domain worldwide.
Paul Cezanne painted "Madame Cezanne in a Red Armchair" in 1877. The painting is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The work of art depicted in this image and the reproduction thereof are in the public domain worldwide. | Source

The Museum of Fine Arts Opens

After receiving news of the many entities who wished their collections to be seen in one central location, the museum began to collect paintings of its own, organize exhibitions, raise money, and do whatever else was needed in order for the new institution to come to life.

The Museum of Fine Arts opened its first building in Boston on Copley Square on July 4, 1876. The museum’s opening coincided with the nation’s 100th birthday and the news of the battle known as Custer’s Last Stand occurring in the West.

The Museum Grows

In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, there wasn’t any income tax. Men of wealth could do what they wanted with their money. They could think big and act big.

The trustees of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston decided in 1898, only 22 years after the museum opened, that they needed a new building. They purchased 12 acres in the Back Bay area, and they went to Europe as a committee to study all the museums located there.

The project of visiting all the museums in Europe took three months. At the end of this period, the committee produced a 200-page report on the ideal museum. The drawing which accompanied the report showed a building that covered the entire 12-acre parcel of land they had purchased. The building, slightly smaller than the Louvre in Paris, France, was to be financed entirely through private resources.

The new building was classical in style. The first visitors entered the grandiose Grecian-columned museum in November 1909.

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Comments 26 comments

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

I didn't see this when I came to Boston, what a shame, I missed some amazing paintings! Great video Daisy, I was very surprised at how many old masters are in the museum. You have done a great job here.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Julie (Jools99),

Congratulations on being the first person to comment in the latest Hub in my museum / art history series.

The museum has a fabulous collection of old masters. It also has the finest collection of oriental art assembled in the West. I didn't mention that in my article because I've gathered enough resource material for a second Museum of Fine Arts Hub.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

I look forward to reading it!


Doc Sonic profile image

Doc Sonic 4 years ago from Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Nice hub Daisy. When my son was attending Mass College of Art, which is just down the street from the museum, we went there fairly often, but I didn't know about the museum's history. Thanks for the information.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Julie,

Thanks for visitng again. I anticpate publishing my article about the Oriental art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston early next month.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Glen (Doc Sonic),

I'm glad you enjoyed viewing my video and reading my article. I learned about the museum's history when I was in college. Rather than discuss the paintings in the museum's collection as an accompaniment to my video, I thought telling everyone about the history of the museum's development might be a nice change.


Doc Sonic profile image

Doc Sonic 4 years ago from Cape Cod, Massachusetts

That was a good idea, Daisy. I like it when the contents of the hub aren't a repeat of what's in the video. This way they complement each other.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Glen,

Thanks for visiting again. I'll try a similar idea with some of my other video / text combinations.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Thanks for the history and background on the museum. I don't know if I will ever get to visit this place, but it would be nice to do so.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Dianna (teaches12345),

Thanks for viewing my video, reading my article, and commenting.

It's been quite a few years since I visited the Museum of Fine Arts. After doing the research for my Hub, I think I would really enjoy seeing the museum's collection again.


bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi Daisy. Great hub. I live in western Mass but haven't been to the Museum of Fine Arts in years. Your Hub makes me want to hop in the car and head to Boston. It really is a wonderful museum and worthy of a visit on any trip to Boston. Great Job. Voting up, sharing, etc..


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Bill (bdegiulio),

It's nice to see you again. Thanks for viewing my video and reading my article. Thanks, too, for commenting in my Hub and sharing it.

I know what you mean about your wanting to hop in your car and drive to Boston. I've written quite a few articles which mention destinations...museum Hubs, travel Hubs, geography quizzes, etc. I keep wanting to travel to nearly all of the places I mention.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

You've only confirmed what I've heard about this museum. That it is a necessary stop when visiting Boston. Voting this Up and Useful.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Aurelio (alocsin),

Thanks for viewing my video and reading my article. Please post another comment after you've visited the museum.


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Now this one I've been in. I liked it a lot. I liked that fact that it almost looked more like a large mansion than one of those huge imposing buildings. Didn't know too much about its history though. Great video. Passing this on.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Rasma (Gypsy Rose Lee),

Thanks for viewing my video and reading my article. Thanks, too, for commenting in and sharing my Hub.

The history of the Museum of Fine Arts is unusual, compared to many of the other major museums in the United States. It really is a special place.


Vellur profile image

Vellur 4 years ago from Dubai

Great information about this museum, makes me want to visit. Enjoyed the video. Museums fascinate me, voted up.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Nithya (Vellur),

Thanks for viewing my video, reading my article, and commenting. I hope you have an opportunity to vist the Museum of Fine Arts some day. It's a fantastic museum with great collections of both paintings and Oriental art.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK

Daisy, this ongoing series is an absolute treasure trove for art lovers like me. It's a shame I missed visiting the museum when I was in Boston some time ago - something I hope to remedy in the future. Your video is like a mini masterpiece collection in itself. Superb! Voted up of course!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Mohan (Docmo),

Thanks for taking the time while you're on holiday to view my video, read my article, and comment. I appreciate your continued support.

In addition to its great collection of paintings, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has one of the best collections of Oriental art in the world. I'll be creating a video and writing an article about it.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM

Daisy: Another beautiful and informative article - loved the video! I have been to Boston many times, but I don't think I have been to the art museum. Again, a beautiful and wonder virtual tour. But, I must see this one also up close and personal! LOL. Love your museum series as I am a fan of art museums.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Suzannah,

Thanks for reading and commenting in another of my Hubs. I'm glad you enjoyed viewing the video. I've found it's the best way to present a large numbers of images in an article. I hope you visit the Museum of Fine Arts the next time you're in Boston.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

I've never been to Boston, but I'd sure like to. When I lived in Atlanta, Ga I visited so many great museums, and I miss that. We don't have any good museums near me except in Miami.

Interesting Hub. I voted it UP, and will share.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Mary,

Thanks for viewing my video and reading my article. Thanks, too, for adding your comment and sharing my Hub.

I've published several museum-related articles. At least with those, you can have some virtual museum visits.


Janine Huldie profile image

Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

I went to Boston as a kid, but never did frequent this museum. Living in NY (Long Island), I traveled to NYC often especially before I had kids. My husband also is an artist and took me to many of the art museums in NYC at that point. But now that I read your article would have loved to have seen this museum too. Maybe someday I will make it back to Boston and will be able to. Voted up and shared too!!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Janine,

Thanks for viewing my video, reading my article, adding your comment, and sharing my Hub. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is a great institution. I hope you get to visit it some day.

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