Boston Museum of Fine Arts History

Even though the museum was technically founded in 1870, it was opened to the public in 1876. A large part of the original collection was taken from the Boston Athenaeum Art Gallery. During the time of its opening, the museum had 5,600 works of art. The museum was located in a Gothic Revival building that was designed by John Hubbard Sturgis and Charles Brigham. This was an ornate building located on Copley Square in Back Bay in Boston. The museum moved to the Huntington Avenue location in 1909 and the avenue was nicknamed the "Avenue of the Arts".

Guy Lowell created the master plan for the current Boston Museum of Fine Arts building. The plan was created in such a manner that it could be built in stages since funding was required for each phase. The first phase was completed in 1909 and it had a 500 foot facade of granite, a grand rotunda and some exhibitions galleries. The second phase of the building was funded entirely by Mrs. Robert Dawson Evans and this was opened along with the Back Bay Fens in 1915. The Decorative Arts Wing was opened in 1968 and the Norman Jean Calderwood Garden Court and Terrace was opened to the public in 1997.

Despite the fact that there has been an attempt to constantly grow the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, there was a massive renovation project that was undertaken in the mid 2000's. This also included the construction of the America's Wing that contained exhibitions of North, Central and South America. The European and Classical galleries were also expanded. This expansion increased the area of the museum by about 28 percent.

The first curator of prints for the Boston Museum of Fine Arts was Sylvester Rosa Koehler. Some of the other notable curators of the museum have been Fitzroy Carrington, William George Constable, Ernest Fenollosa, Okakura Kakuzo, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Robert Treat Paine and Anne Nishimura Morse.


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