Celebrating its 150th birthday in 2020, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts is the 5th largest art museum in America. The museum owns over 450,000 pieces of art in its collection, which includes paintings, photography, prints, drawing, musical instruments, textiles, and jewelry.
There are over a dozen current exhibits and over 120 galleries of various art work throughout the museum, which is organized into four levels of American art, a newer west wing of contemporary art, and many educational and performance spaces, with a conservation center set to open in the near future. Information on current exhibitions can be found here and information on upcoming exhibitions can be found here. The Monet and Boston: Lasting Impression exhibit, which will feature all 35 Monet oil painting owned by the museum, promised to be a special event. The exhibition will run from mid April through August 2020 and we plan on seeing it this summer.
Bonus: In fact checking a few details for this post, I found the Museum of Fine Arts website incredibly helpful. Every piece in the collection is archived, with download-able information, the exhibition information is up-to-date, and the calendar is filled with helpful information about programs (so many things to see and do for families!)
Children six and under receive FREE admission every day; children ages 7-17 receive FREE admission on weekends, weekdays after 3pm, and on Boston school public holidays. Adults could spend an entire day at the museum and still not see every gallery. Plan on 3-4 hours with children to attend a program, see galleries of interest, and have lunch.
The entire museum is handicap accessible and strollers are allowed. There are plenty of restrooms on each floor.
There is a free coat check available near the Huntington and Fenway entrances to the museum. Any bag larger than 11” x 19” must be checked and bags must be worn in the front. Photography (no flash!) is allowed
There are three parking garages near the museum: Huntington Lot, Fenway Lot, and Museum Road Garage. Check here for information on discounted parking and rates and times.
The museum offers tons of family friendly activities from Playdate for toddlers on specific Mondays and Saturdays to Junior Artists workshops on Saturday to Family Art Carts and Activity Totes. Check here for all the information.
The Druker Family Pavilion includes two classrooms available for registered classes, birthday parties, and special family events.
Make sure children borrow an activity kit from the Art Cart while exploring the museum. Our children most enjoyed these 10 galleries at the Museum of Fine Arts:
1. British furniture and metal works from the early 1800s in the Art of English Regency Gallery.
2. Olmec Mask, dating back to the 900-600 B.C. era, found near the Gulf of Mexico and possibly used for an Olmec rules in the Ancient Mesoamerica Gallery.
3. Statue of King Menkaura, the largest sculpture from Egypt’s Old Kingdom, and other funerary ornaments, customs, and pottery in the Egypt: Old Kingdom Gallery.
4. The unfinished portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart that was later produced on the one dollar bill (go ahead and compare!) in the gallery
5. Furniture (full room displays!) in the Crozier Gallery of Colonial Art.
6. Ship models (used as marketing and teaching tools) and drawers of scrimshaw in the Putnam Gallery
7. Stained glass of Lafarge and Tiffany in the Henderson Gallery on Level 2 of the Art of the Americas wing. Most days, a docent is stationed at a “Ask Me” Cart to explain the process and to loan gloves so that guests can actually touch the glass pieces.
8. A Washington Allston painting in the American Impressionism Gallery, which is the first painting acquired by the museum.
9. The replicated dining room and living in the Heide Family Galleries, which include interactive touch screens about the objects in each room.
10. The various musical instruments (violins! harpsichords! guitars!) of the 1800s in the Musical Instruments Gallery.
Bonus: The largest Jackson Pollock “mural”, which stretched 20 feet by 8 feet, is displayed across from the even larger mural by German artists Katharina Grosse, who was inspired by Pollock. This exhibit is only open through February 2020.
There are four options for dining at the Museum of Fine Arts:
1. 465 Bar and Restaurant is the more upscale, formal restaurant located on level 2 in the Contemporary Art Wing.
2. New American Café is a full service restaurant (more appropriate for families than 465) located in the middle of Family Courtyard on level 1.
3. Garden Café is a cafeteria style, quick service spot serving soups, salads, sandwiches, and grill items with plenty of cafeteria style seating located on the ground level of the Contemporary Art Wing.
4. Taste Café is a quick service spot serving prepackaged snacks, grab and go meals, and drinks (including wine) with open space tables. The Cafe is located next to the bookstore on level 1 of the Contemporary Art Wing. All purchases from the Taste Cafe are allowed in the Remis Auditorium during programming.
For 10 reasons why you should bring the kids to art museums, check out our adventures at the Guggenheim in New York City. And read about our adventures at the:
Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts
RISD Art Museum in Providence, Rhode Island.
For more fun in Boston, check out our adventures at the Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum, the Boston Historic Park, the Charlestown Navy Yard and USS Constitution and Museum, Massachusetts State House, and Legoland Discovery Center.
Disclaimer: My family was given a media pass to visit the museum. All opinions expressed are my own.