Museum of Fine Arts

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Museum of Fine Arts

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, chartered and incorporated (1870) after a decision by the Boston Athenæum, Harvard, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to pool their collections of art objects and house them in adequate public galleries. The first building was opened in 1876; the present one, designed by Guy Lowell, in 1909. The museum's West Wing, designed by I. M. Pei, opened in 1981. The most recent addition, designed by Norman Foster and Partners, is the Art of the Americas Wing, opened in 2010. The museum is supported entirely by private contributions and endowments.

Its collection of art from India is considered to be the finest in the United States. The museum's collections of Chinese and Japanese art are also outstanding. The Egyptian wing, housing the Way Collection, includes Old Kingdom sculpture unrivaled except in Cairo. The painting galleries are notable for many examples of Spanish art and are particularly strong in works by American artists; 18th-century portraitists, especially Copley and Stuart, are magnificently represented. The museum owns many canvases by John Singer Sargent as well as his mural decorations in the rotunda. The silverwork of Paul Revere is shown in quantities unequaled elsewhere. There is also a rich collection of graphic art.

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