This historic New England city may be known for its prominent role in American history and for its devoted sports fans, but for those who love visual arts, Boston has many options to indulge in everything from medieval to modern.
For art-obsessed travellers, Beantown offers a wide variety of styles and time periods, and a visit to to three neighbourhoods is a way to indulge in visual offerings and partake in local culture.
Home to several colleges, the Fens and Fenway Park, Back Bay is home to:
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston – indulge in French impressionism, art of the Americas, mid-century photography or 19th century watercolours – and realize that’s just the beginning – how about musical instruments, textiles or jewellery? The extensive permanent collection and touring exhibitions makes for a day well-spent. Must see: Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art, housed in a building designed by I.M Pei and featuring art from Betty Goodman, Andy Warhol, Chuck Close and El Anatsui.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum – the first American woman art collector, Mrs. Gardner built a four storey Italian palazzo to house her collection which includes Greek and Roman antiquities, Medieval religious iconography, Renaissance paintings, textiles, sculptures, ceramics, watercolours and pen and ink drawings from past centuries. Must see: a portrait Mrs.Gardner done by close friend American painter John Singer Sargent as well as Sargent's painting El Jaleo.
The up and coming Fort Point neighbourhood is reinventing the Boston waterfront and warehouse district:
The Institute of Contemporary Art – featuring modern artists of many disciplines, visitors can expect to see art from Nan Goldin, Shepard Fairey, Damian Ortega, Cindy Sherman and Thomas Hirschhorn, working in mediums such as mixed media, video, photography and sculpture. Must see: Josiah McElheny’s glass installation Czech Modernism Mirrored and Reflected Infinity (2005).
Grand Circle Gallery – located within Grand Circle Travel Agency, this gallery celebrates the golden age of travel with regular exhibits showing vintage destination posters, 19th century fashion, historic maps and travel paraphernalia of the past from luggage to travel guides. Must see: aerial mountain photography by Bradford Washburn.
Boston’s South End mixes tree-lined streets, three story brick buildings and a boho spirit:
SoWa Artists Guild – a collective of over 50 artists and 15 galleries, the non-profit guild aims to educate as well as instill a love of the visual art in visitors. Located near the lively Tremont Street shopping strip, visitors will discover their new favourite Boston artists. Must see: First Fridays, to give the curious more insight into the artistic process.
Boston Center for the Arts – featuring visual and performing arts, this center provides access to contemporary artists through its Mills Gallery, Artists in Residence program and over 30 studio artists producing printmaking, painting, sculpture and craftspeople. Must see: The Beehive, a restaurant/club within the centre offering a unique combination of visual art, live music, tasty libations and Mediterranean cuisine.
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I'm a Toronto-based freelance journalist, writing about travel, design, cuisine and people who are passionate about what they create. I’ve written for newspaper, magazine, websites and blogs since 2000, love taking photos and happy to share what I've found wandering our planet.
Located: Toronto Canada
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