Boston, Massachusetts, is a hub of history and learning. The city is at once a stronghold of greater New England culture – full of rich American history – and an immigrant city with vibrant Italian and Irish influences. All this makes for a city of cultural renown, with both contemporary and historical art galleries reflecting the city's place in the American dream and its position as an internationally prominent city. Boston is, of course, an erudite city and home to venerable institutions including MIT and Harvard. The scholarly atmosphere which dominates much of the city extends to the art institutions, and as such a tourist's experience at any of these five fantastic museums is sure to be both a cultural and an educational experience.
By the waterfront, the ICA is a popular stop for families, students and all sorts of art enthusiasts. Aside from the exhibits, visitors are dazzled by the waterfront view through huge windows and a glass ceiling. The museum boasts unique, one-off exhibitions from photography to art to sculpture. While relatively small in size, the exhibits change regularly and opt for quality over quantity with striking visuals and intellectual themes. The ICA is also frequent host of Boston-area film festivals and public parties.
The Museum of Fine Arts boasts artwork through the ages, with bite-sized exhibits that are sure to keep even the kids amused. Textiles, paintings, sculptures and photography are on display, with educational resources along the way so adults and children alike are sure to learn something. From American history to contemporary community artwork, the MFA is a welcoming introduction to the arts, accessible to even the most casual art observers.
This one is geared towards the more discerning art aficionado. The McMullen Museum of Art – hosted by Boston College – boasts a constantly changing roster of exhibitions. Professionally and thoughtfully constructed, the photography and paintings are typically historically and internationally themed. This is a free museum, and it's lower on the radar of most tourists so visitors likely to have plenty of space away from the crowds to take in the unique, provocative art displays on offer here.
Tucked away in the surroundings of an old church, NAGA is an unexpected treasure trove of art. It's a small museum but the displays here tend to change on a monthly basis. With a heavy focus on the aesthetic, the exhibits at NAGA are presented without commentary and often without descriptions affixed to the pieces. This does little to limit the enjoyment of the gallery however; it's a quiet, zen space with some beautiful, unusual art – all for free.
Photo via their official FB page.
Galerie D'Orsay, set against the backdrop of Boston's chic Back Bay, is a stunning collection of rare art. The rather unassuming gallery boasts work from some of the most famous artists in history – including Toulouse-Lautrec and Dali – and exhibits carefully selected works from living artists. If you're in the market for collecting art then Galerie D'Orsay is a good bet, but for the avid art admirer, the gallery is still worth a visit for its superb selection of Master Works.