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A Brief History of the Museum of Fine Arts

Jan 11, 2008
The Museum of Fine Arts first opened its doors to the public in Boston in 1876 in the Copley Square Building in Copley Square. With the square having limiting space, and the museum gaining more and more pieces, the need to expand was inevitable.

The trustees at the Museum of Fine Arts settled on a new area where there was extra land to compensate for its projected growth. It was moved to Boston's Huntington Avenue and the new museum was completed at the site in 1909. When the museum was founded, the majority of all its content was brought over from an older museum from Beacon Hill -- the Boston Athenaeum building.

A notable figure who co-founded the Boston Athenaeum building is Rev. William Emerson, father of the literary great Ralph Waldo Emerson. Rev. William Emerson organized a literary publishing group called the Anthology Club in the early 1800s. The Boston Athenaeum is considered a collective growth of that group, and indirectly the start of the MFA.

The Museum of Fine Arts consists of a grand rotunda along with a 500 foot long facade made of granite that parallels Huntington Avenue. The design was in the vein of neoclassical architecture.

The Architect who designed the building, Guy Lowell, is also famous for the design of the New York Supreme Court building in New York City. The design started with the main building and rotunda and was built with expansion in mind.

After a few years from the completion of the mains galleries and rotunda, the Robert Dawson Evans Wing was completed. Opened in 1915 the section opened an astounding 40 percent more space in the building for gallery display.

Modern Developments

In the past decade, the museum has added some major new areas. A whole new wing addition is currently being built to contain more collection of arts from the Americas. It will be linked to the other sections of the museum by the new fully glass enclosed courtyard called the Carl J. Shapiro Family courtyard.

The new wing is being designed by the internationally acclaimed Foster and Partners architectural firm, who is currently being contracted to design the new World Trade Center.

Now today, with communication and the Internet, the Museum of Fine Arts hosts tons of gallery pictures for the public to peruse through. The experience at the museum can be the usual fare or not; you could find yourself in a museum scavenger hunt or seeing a cutting edge pop art exhibit like the one in 2002 for Star Wars, which yielded the highest turn out of visitors surpassing over 1.5 million visitors.
About the Author
Art Gib is a writer for Watson Adventures (http://www.watsonadventures.com/meetplace/mfa.html) who host and conduct unique scavenger hunts for both general public and corporate events. They often hold hunts in famous museum setting such as the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston .
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