WBUR

MFA Director Wants To Welcome ‘Broader Audience’

The MFA's new Art of the Americas wing (Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston)

The MFA's new Art of the Americas wing (Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston)

BOSTON — As the Museum of Fine Arts prepares to open its highly anticipated Art of the Americas wing, Director Malcolm Rogers wants the city to feel at home in the museum’s new addition.

“Something that I’ve been trying to do is make the museum more approachable through some original, some more popular, some controversial programming,” Rogers said in a Morning Edition interview. “Key to all this is extending a welcome to a broader audience.”

The Art of the Americas wing is the latest — and largest — of Rogers’ attempts to attract visitors to the museum.

“I can honestly say we’re opening up the whole of our collections to the public.”
– Malcolm Rogers, MFA director

“The traditional museum building can look like a palace, or a bank building, or sometimes like a prison,” Rogers said. “What I wanted was to create a building where people could glimpse works of art inside. But more important, perhaps, they could see people like themselves wandering around with their kids in strollers, in relaxed clothing, dispelling some of the mystique of what it’s like to be in a museum building.”

A $504 million addition, the new wing will reshape the museum in such a profound way it is being billed as “the new MFA.”

“My passion is to bring things out of storage and to use them — to make sure that people see the treasures that we have,” Rogers said. “We’re displaying twice as many objects as we did in our former American galleries, and I can honestly say we’re opening up the whole of our collections to the public.”

The almost 200,000 square-foot wing will showcase over 5,000 works of art from all corners of the American continents.

“The whole concept of dealing with North, South and Central America is rare in America and yet, when you think of all the strands that go to make up American society today, isn’t it appropriate that we look at the continent as a whole?” Rogers said.

The new wing did not come cheaply. Yet Rogers was able to keep fund-raising for the wing on track, even amidst a brutal recession.

“You have to have a vision that people believe in and is practically possible,” Rogers said. “But it has to be a vision that expresses a really strong sense of mission, and then people will invest. And the truth is that philanthropists — through good times and bad times — are very consistent in their support of strong visions.”

More:

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on wbur.org.
  • Lydia Horton

    Whereas I like the concept of having lots of windows for people on the street to see in, this begs a few questions.

    First, do all works of art look their best in natural daylight? The lighting in a museum is crucial and should be appropriate to show off a work of art. Not too many windows at the Louvre or the Musee d’Orsay. Which brings me to my second question:

    Who designed this monstrosity? Architecturally, to me, it is ugly and boxy. Here’s my point. When the Louvre needed expansion, they decided on pyramids by IM Pei. It was a controversial idea, people either loved it or hated it. But the pyramids are distinctive, interesting, and over time, we’ve come to accept them.

    My first question, of course, is less subjective, and more important. But I love my MFA, and wish it looked as beautiful on the outside as it does on the inside.

    Thank you.
    Lydia Stuart Horton

Most Popular