We love style, and no city brings out our artistic side quite like Boston and its neighbor to the west, Cambridge. From the city’s historic museums to its newer, more contemporary exhibitions and suspension art sculptures in the sky, both sides of the river are fast becoming the talk of the art world.
With notable artworks from the classic oil paintings in historic buildings to modernized, wired oeuvres floating in the air, Boston and Cambridge have burgeoning art scenes that aren’t to be missed. With two of local Kimpton hotels now featuring new art installations, we’re sharing our street cred for experiencing the art scenes like a local.
Museum of Fine Arts
Boston’s iconic art museum is known for its grand collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, but its rotating exhibitions typically draw the most fanfare. Currently showing through is “Crafted,” an art collection that pays homage to those artists who bring unique materials into the workspace and use new technology to rethink traditional art craftsmanship. While you’re visiting, don’t miss a visit to the Art of Americas wing, where you’ll find art spanning centuries from pre-Columbian to today.
Institute for Contemporary Art
The ICA has one rule for its exhibitions: all art consists of new media. Recycled materials, video and street art, are just a few of the ways the ICA stays unique in the Boston art scene. The ICA, located in Boston’s dynamic Seaport district, is as much an attraction as the art it holds. The glass building sits on the tip of a plaza that overlooks the harbor, giving guests stunning views of Boston from the first floor’s Founders Gallery.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Stepping into the home of Isabella Stewart Gardner is a surreal experience for art lovers. Gardner was an avid art collector and passionate about her favorite artists, like John Singer Sargent, who used her palazzo’s Gothic Room as an art studio. It was only 25 years ago that one of the greatest art heists took place here. Thirteen pieces of art worth nearly $500 million were stolen in the March 1990 heist, including paintings by Rembrandt and Degas. A walk through the Museum takes you back in time to the 1800s, when antiques and oil paintings hung in every room, and chandeliers served as the light that accentuated the original oils in every frame. A staunch supporter of new artists, the Gardner Museum today also features a rotating artist-in-residency program that refreshes with new works every year.
Cambridge Art Museums
Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology produce more than the smartest people on the planet. They’re also home to some of Boston’s most advanced artistic endeavors. Take a walk through MIT’s campus and you’ll notice there’s art everywhere – that’s because the university abides by a progressive “percent-for-art” program, which allocates 2% of every new building project for art acquisition. The campus is dressed in sculptures, murals and paintings from local artists, as well as time-cherished pieces from Pablo Picasso and Henry Moore. Just a few miles down the road at Harvard University is the Harvard Art Museums project, where three collections focusing on Asian, European and Germanic art are merged together in an effort to blend studies with cultures under one roof. There are teaching galleries that welcome students, faculty, artists and guests to admire various works of local art.
Where to Stay
At Hotel Marlowe, you’ll have quick access to the Cambridge museums and the museums in downtown Boston are just a short ride away. The hotel just recently unveiled a 25-foot, 6,000-pound steampunk-inspired armillary sculpture in its outdoor courtyard. A work of art that’s equal parts artistic and scholastic, the armillary sculpture, lovingly referred to as Celeste, is a modern interpretation of the hotel’s themes of exploration and discovery while celebrating the innovation and technology that define its surrounding neighborhoods, The sculpture is all locally made; Hotel Marlowe commissioned Bruce Rosenbaum of ModVic and Salmon Studios in Florence, who collaborated with Owen Jay Gingerich, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and History of Science at Harvard University, and Ken Brecher, Professor of Astronomy and Physics at Boston University to design and fabricate the stunning new sculpture. Meeting Celeste is the perfect way to kick off your Cambrdige art tour in style.
THE NEW & NOW
The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway
One of Boston’s newest art initiatives takes place in the city’s most talked about green space – its parks. The most conspicuous is floating right above the city – the As If It Were Already Here sculpture hangs between two of Boston’s downtown buildings, giving tourists a reason to look up as they walk through the waterfront park (on view through end-October). Underneath Janet Echelman’s giant sculpture in the sky are Adirondack chairs and hammocks for visitors and locals to sit on and gaze up at the sculpture. A little further down the Greenway you’ll find murals, collages and sculptures commissioned by Design Biennial Boston 2015, which focuses on emerging architects and designers who create innovative spaces. The art exhibitions on the Greenway change frequently, so with each new trip you’re bound to experience a new way of art and style. Just added is a new all-word mural installation on the Greenway Wall in Dewey Square Park by acclaimed contextual artist Lawrence Weiner (pictured below).
SoWa Artists Guild
If there’s one thing Boston is passionate about, it’s its people, and nowhere is that more evident than in the local art scene. Boston’s South End is a hot bed of artist activity, as seen from the various boutiques on trendy Tremont Street and the lofts and studios that surround the South End on Harrison and Washington Streets. Just a short walk from the studios is the Boston Ballet School, where students of all levels practice their pirouettes and pointed toes in advance of the Boston Ballet’s most coveted performance of the year, The Nutcracker.
Art Sculptures at Boston Public Garden
If you’re from the area you likely remember the story about the ducklings that made their home in the Boston Public Garden. If you’re not from Boston, Make Way For The Ducklings is a great fairy tale to add to your reading list before you arrive. The bronze sculpture of Mrs. Mallard and her eight ducklings is easy to find- just look for a crowd of children climbing the ducks, surrounded by parents holding cameras commemorating the moment.
Where to Stay
Get truly immersed in the art scene downtown at the Onyx Hotel, which has easy access to Boston’s Greenway. The intimate boutique hotel is located just steps from Faneuil Hall and TD Garden, making it central to the city’s arts and culture hotspots. Art lovers will rejoice at the prints and unique perspectives from Gloucester-resident and artist Brendan Pike that adorn the walls of the hotel’s public spaces. His stunning photography of the city will leave you transfixed. Leave room in your suitcase so you can return home with a Pike print of your own to commemorate your trip to Boston.
What is your favorite arty sight in Boston? Let us know in the Comments!
— Melanie Nayer
photos (from top to bottom): Museum of Fine Arts courtesy of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum by Nic Lehoux, “Celeste” courtesy of Hotel Marlowe, “As If It Were Already Here” courtesy of Studio Echelman, Lawrence Weiner mural courtesy of Geoff Hargadon, “Make Way for Ducklings” courtesy of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau