Thursday, December 23, 2010

A visit to Boston and its MFA

I had the chance to visit the newly renovated Museum of Fine Arts in Boston yesterday after my conference was over. Just a few weeks ago, they opened an enormous and beautiful addition mainly housing the American art collection. Next summer, they will open the renovation of the contemporary wing.

The new wing links to the older part of the Museum through a new visitor's center in the middle of the complex, as well as through some doorways and hallways leading off the pre-existing gallaries.

The Museum is now a lot like the city of Boston itself:

--a blend of old and new.

--incredible cultural riches along with just a little insecurity about whether the world will recognize those riches with New York just down the road.

--some fantastic public spaces and some odd little byways.

--a little confusing to get around. (Give up hope of seeing the museum or any part of the museum systematically unless you have a lot of time to study the map.)

--somewhat arbitrary local conventions. (Someone called me while I was in a corridor leading to the new wing--actually technically in the new wing--hung with tapestries and with nice benches to sit on. So I took the call and sat down to talk. A guard came over to tell me that I couldn't talk in that corridor, but that I could talk in the next corridor, in the old wing.)

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