Finding Your Fine Arts Fix

September 24, 2012

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Boston boasts a long list of museums scientific, historic and artistic. Old world artifacts and millennial abstracts are tucked in buildings throughout the city. When the dim glow of Tumblr images on your Mac screen are no longer enough to whet your artistic appetite, a hop on the T or a jaunt down the street can take you to a world of creative inspiration. Finding your fine arts fix in the city of Boston is as easy as finding a Yankees-hater in Fenway.

The Up and Coming: The Art Institute of Boston, a school of Lesley University, has multiple galleries throughout the city, all of which are free and open to the public. The primary gallery is located at 700 Beacon Street, and another takes up part of the space at 601 Newbury. In these galleries you’ll find the work of masters and bachelors of art students at the Institute, as well as the masterpieces of institute faculty. Since the gallery focuses on the work of the Institute’s students, a visit is a glimpse of the artistic future.

The Cutting Edge and Contemporary: Boston’s 75-year-old Institute of Contemporary Art is known for featuring more modern and experimental pieces, identifying and promoting the work of art’s rising stars. The Institute displays rotating exhibitions in addition to its young but vast permanent collection. Begun in 2000, the Institute’s collection features a small wooden Leaning Tower of Pisa, mirrored and blown glass art installations, numerous powerful photographs and even the work of Shepard Fairy, famed skate scene and gig poster illustrator and creator of the “Andre the Giant Has a Posse (OBEY)” poster. The Institute of Contemporary Art is located at 100 Northern Avenue.

The Classic: The building of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is itself a marvel of fine art and architecture. The museum, located in the Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood at 280 The Fenway, is a Venetian-style structure with flower-filled gardens and an old-world feel. To compliment its 15th century aesthetic, the museum is home to classic art by the likes of Michelangelo, Botticelli, and Raphael. It also regularly cycles in exhibitions of contemporary art. Prepare for your visit at http://www.gardnermuseum.org/explore  where you can virtually tour individual rooms within the house.

The collections of all three Harvard Art Museums are currently housed under the roof of one, the Arthur M. Sackler Museum at 485 Broadway Street in Cambridge, during a period of construction and renovation. Harvard’s art collection is rich in Mediterranean world artifacts such as vases and coins, Roman, Egyptian and Near Eastern pieces, and Islamic ceramics. Current exhibitions include “American Art and Modernity,” a documentation of U.S. artistic development in the Civil to Cold War period, and “Seeing is Believing: A History of Photography.”

Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. | Photo via Wikimedia Commons user Alexf

The Extra-Extra Expansive: The Museum of Fine Arts at 465 Huntington Avenue, otherwise known as the Avenue of the Arts, is home to over 450,000 works of global fine art. The MFA’s collections are divided into location of origin – Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Ancient World – and by media, such as print, jewelry, and musical instruments. Classic and original Van Gogh, Monet, and Degas occupy MFA walls along with rotating exhibitions. Current exhibitions include a Fenway Park photo project, “An Unspoken Dialogue with Japanese Tea,” and “Artful Healing,” the drawings and photography of participants in the museum’s namesake art therapy-style program for patients of Mass General, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and Children’s Hospital Boston.

The Close to Home: Our very own College of Fine Arts boats six galleries featuring student work. Support your classmates and find artistic inspiration without stepping off campus by visiting the 808 Gallery, the Stone, Sherman, or Commonwealth Galleries, the Gallery 5 or the Exhibition Media Archive. This fall, visit the 808 Gallery’s “On Sincerity,” an exhibit which seeks to explore the concept of sincerity, an “elusive and often ambiguous sentiment.” Or, visit the Sherman Gallery’s “Colbert Mashile: Not Yet,” a display of the work of South African Colbert Mashile’s relief printing.

Most Boston museums, art or not, offer significant discounts to college students. Admission to the Art Institute of Boston galleries is free of charge. The Institute of Contemporary Art charges $10 for students; the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, $5 with valid college ID; the MFA free with BU ID; and the Harvard Art Museums charge college students a mere $6.