The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, is unveiling an ambitious transformation of five galleries including art of ancient Greece, Rome and the Byzantine Empire that tell new stories about some of the oldest works in the museum’s collection.
Filled with natural light, the newly renovated spaces feature innovative displays, interactive and digital experiences created in partnership with local and international collaborators, and immersive evocations of an ancient Greek temple and a Byzantine church.
Each of the nearly 550 featured objects — ranging from the beginnings of Greek art (about 950 BCE) through the fall of Constantinople in the 15th century and into the present day — was researched, cleaned and conserved prior to going on view. Many objects are on view for the first time or after a long absence, including the recently conserved Monopoli Altarpiece and a colossal seated marble sculpture of a goddess.
The five galleries are located in the museum’s George D. and Margo Behrakis Wing for Art of the Ancient World.
Narratives throughout the galleries provide fresh perspectives on an era that provided inspiration for our own modern society and examine contemporary issues through the art of the past — posing questions about community, the role of religion and why the mythical world is an enduring source of fascination, then and now.
The galleries debuted to the public on December 18 with free admission for all.
“We are pleased to open our galleries after a period of almost two years, and share new perspectives on many objects, some on view for the first time in a generation,” Ann and Graham Gund Director Matthew Teitelbaum said. “Our challenge was to take one of the great collections of ancient art in the world and create a context for understanding and appreciation amongst audiences today.”
The gallery renovations were funded with contributions from individuals, families and foundations, led by George D. and Margo Behrakis, Lizbeth and George Krupp, Richard and Nancy Lubin and an anonymous donor.
The MFA’s collection of Greek and Roman art is one most comprehensive in the world. The major renovation and reinstallation project has created a grand entry to these holdings, with three galleries exploring Greek and Roman mythology, early Greek art and Roman portraiture.
The suite also includes a new gallery devoted to art of the Byzantine Empire — the first of its kind in New England — and a gallery for rotating installations that explore how modern and contemporary artists interacted with art of the past.
The inaugural installation features sculptural works by American abstractionist Cy Twombly (1928–2011), on loan from the Cy Twombly Foundation, and an important painting by the artist that is a promised gift to the museum.
Founded in 1870, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts houses a global collection of nearly 500,000 works of art. The museum is located at 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115.