Appreciating Art in Boston

Amy Julian

Granted, it took me a class assignment to get there, but last weekend my boyfriend and I trekked over to Huntington Ave in Boston and visited the Museum of Fine Arts. My dad used to work over there, so I was always in the area, but can’t fully recall the last time I was in any of the galleries. I think being the resident of a big city, rich with culture like Boston, makes you forget the true nuances and closeness of such culture. A trip on the red line and a switch over to the green line was all it took for us to wind up in the middle of ancient Egypt, classical Greece, Victorian England, and Buddhist sanctuaries. The stuff I simply skimmed over in textbooks and glanced at during PowerPoint presentations was now in front of my eyes in its grandeur and beauty. It’s one thing to see a picture of a sarcophagus or a statue of Athena, but it’s another thing to be in the presence of it. And at the MFA, that’s what you can do.

My dad used to work over at the Museum of Fine Arts, so I was always in the area visiting him; I honestly can’t remember ever stepping foot and venturing into the museum deeper than the main entrance lobby. I think living so close to it, and having it at our disposal, as Bostonians we tend to forget that we are home to one of the best and most historically and artistically rich archives of art, architecture, and artifacts. It’s probably the same way that, say, Parisians feel when we can’t take enough photos of the Eiffel Tower and revel in The Louvre: What’s the big deal?

The Museum of Fine Arts is where you are brought back to a place of deep appreciation for your city and the resources it offers.

I think most people (particularly students who don’t really care too much about art) don’t really know what lies behind the heavy glass doors of the MFA. I am, in no regards, an art expert, and a lot of the artwork that people flock to, well, I kind of don’t get it. I can appreciate the beauty and talent that artists have, and respect and admire their abilities to create beauty out of pure imagination, but it’s hard for me to drop my jaw at another painting of paint splatters on canvas. I think a lot of people who don’t frequent the MFA (myself included) think that the walls of the galleries are simply lined with painting after painting of abstractions and obscurities. Sure, there are paintings, and most of them are fantastic. But it’s more than that. The first steps into the galleries will prove that paintings, while numerous, are NOT the MFA’s only claim to fame. In fact, it’s the artifacts, the sculptures, and the jewelry that evoke feelings of nostalgia. Sitting in my Ancient Mesoamerica, but seeing ancient headdresses of the Americas give much more of a sense of understanding and appreciation for the subject. You can read that Egyptian sculptures were monstrous structures, but standing next to them gives you a true sense of their grandiosity.

People who enjoy art (including the paintings) will likely visit and appreciate the museum anyways. But students would greatly benefit from taking in all that the MFA has to offer. Aside from my fellow classmates who were feverishly scribbling down the answers to the assignment in the Greek culture rooms, I was hard-pressed to find anyone at the museum who wasn’t either an art student sketching or over the age of 35. By understanding art and being able to see and connect with past eras, it allows us to understand and appreciate our heritage and history. My boyfriend and I went with the intention of getting my assignment done and getting out, but the charm and essence of the MFA pulled us deeper and deeper into her depths. Before we knew it, we had traversed five continents and almost over 3,000 years, and I think I shed tears more than once. The beauty that the MFA has to offer should not be overlooked or dismissed. There are countless exhibits to appeal to anyone; one of the memories I can remember from my younger days is the opening gala we attended for the opening of an exhibit called “Dangerous Curves”-an exhibit all about guitars.

Every time I travel into Boston, I always say the same thing: “I love Boston.” Sure, the traffic is awful at times, parts of the city and its surrounding areas stink to the high heavens, and you have to sell a couple kidneys to live in the city. But having such a rich and historical city at our fingertips, we should not bypass the privileges we have as Bostonians (not only is the MFA a stones throw away from just about anywhere in the area, UMB students get in for free with their student ID’s). They say that life often imitates art. Lets hope so; the art here in Boston is beautiful.