Once a year, museums across the country open their doors on Free Museum Day. In Boston and Cambridge, where the museums are continually ranked as some of the best in the country, if not the world, it’s a unique opportunity to explore rich collections that span continents and centuries. Here’s how to pack in all the highlights from multiple museums during Free Museum Day in Boston, held this year on September 23.
Museum of Fine Arts
Boston’s encyclopedic Museum of Fine Arts holds one of the world’s great collections of art. During Free Museum Day in Boston, take a quick turn through one of its new exhibits, the Showdown! Kuniyoshi vs. Kunisada exhibit, running until December 10, which explores the rivalry and ukiyo-e woodblock prints of contemporaries Utagawa Kuniyoshi and Utagawa Kunisada. On your way, stop at the murals on the rotunda ceiling by John Singer Sargent, one of just a few that the artist did in his lifetime.
Get a glimpse of what life among Boston’s elite was like in the mid-19th and early 20th centuries at the Gibson House, a well-preserved home museum. Catherine Gibson purchased the new home in 1859 for her son Charles after the death of her eldest son John. The move sparked discussion for two reasons: Gibson’s status as a female home-owner and her selection of a home in the just-built Back Bay neighborhood. See how the family lived, from their china collection to their furniture, and get a better sense of the history of New England society during Free Museum Day in Boston.
Harvard Art Museums
The art world was stunned when Harvard moved the Fogg, Busch-Reisinger, and Arthur M. Sackler museums into one building renovated by architect Renzo Piano in 2014. The now-united Harvard Art Museums’ rich collections include 250,000 objects spanning from portraits of Boston’s early founders to Impressionist art. During Free Museum Day in Boston, see exhibitions on Women in South Asia and Technologies of the Image: Art in 19th Century Iran.
Harvard Museum of Natural History
See the outside world inside at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Watch bees at work inside a hive, ogle thousands of rare gems and minerals on display, and tour the recently reopened glass flowers gallery.