It was a gray, rainy Sunday morning … cold and raw. What to do? A good museum day! Especially since Bank of America offers its customers free admission to the Boston Fine Arts Museum on the first weekend of each month and this was the first weekend in November.
We missed visiting the MFA on our July weekend in Boston and it was still on the “must-see” list, but our time here is getting shorter and shorter. Founded in 1870, this is one of the largest museums in the USA with a collection of nearly a half million works of art. This was the perfect day to visit. Lin dropped us off across the street in the rain at 10AM … opening time. The lines seemed long, but our timing was good. A half hour later, the line wound around and stretched out through the main lobby, but we already had our admission tickets, our coats checked and were on our way.
We began our tour at the special exhibition of John Singer Sargent's works. Let me say that we are not particularly knowledgeable when it comes to artwork, but we're not complete dolts either. We like what we like and we have an appreciation for the rest. Sargent was prolific and brilliant. He painted with passion and it shows in his work. This man was worldly and it shows. From marble quarries to boat docks, landscapes to portraits of Bedouins and everything in between, the man captured the essence of his subjects and we were enthralled by nearly 100 works on display.
Our interest in birdwatching and bird photography led us to a special exhibit entitled “Audubon's Birds, Audubon's Words”. We always admired his detailed drawings, but never surmised what an eloquent writer he was.
Egyptian art and mummies always fascinate us and we headed to the Ancient World galleries where hundreds of ancient artifacts, mummies and sarcophagi awaited us. It's hard not to be impressed and totally taken in by the ageless beauty of the pieces on display. It's hard to look at them and not wonder about the people who fabricated what we saw and the people for whom they were made.
En route to the Ancient World, we passed through a gallery with pages of the Islamic Quran beautifully displayed and explained. Another gallery displayed Buddhist works. Another highlighted the Hindu religion and the god, Ganesh, caught our attention. Yet others concentrated on Christian and Jewish themes. There's always so much to learn about … it's mind boggling.
It's impossible to rush. Even if you're in a hurry to see mummies or Renoirs or Washington Crossing the Delaware, how can you pass up an Ansel Adams photograph or a Greek statue or a Winslow Homer lithograph or a Picasso that's hanging there, begging for your attention?
We tried to be systematic in our approach to seeing as much as we could, but there's gallery after gallery after gallery of permanent exhibits to work through … Art of the Americas, Europe, Asia, Oceania, Africa.
Every imaginable art media is represented … fabric, jewelry, oils, watercolors, etchings, sculpture, photography, pottery, weaving, furniture, clothing, stained glass … it went on and on. Everything from balalaikas to bells, totem poles to tapas, Renoir, van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Cezanne, Hopper, Wyeth ... our minds were swimming.
By 4pm, we could absorb no more. We needed to process it all, discuss what we'd seen, appreciate the day and plan our return trip on the first weekend in December. Maybe Lin will come along next time.
We boarded the train back to Walpole in the dark where Lin waited for us at the station. A edifying day well spent.